Cultural feast and nutritional famine at Edinburgh Festival

This article is from 2008

Steve Cramer's festival blog

I’m pining for a vegetable. At the moment, it doesn’t feel as though I’ll be eating one until September. At the best of times reviewers have an irregular diet, since at most people’s dinner time we’re either in shows or on the way to them. But at the festival an irregular diet becomes irregularly irregular. An afternoon of starvation is generally followed by a steak bake, a poke of chips or pre packed sandwich of dubious origin. Yesterday I ate a chicken pie, which far from containing the promised bird, tasted as if it had been prepared by one. It was all very well in my younger days, when I could eat Tupperware and feel no ill effects, but these days it can be a struggle.

Food on the run takes on quite a literal meaning at this time, and a couple of days ago I missed a show because, hungry enough to eat a horse and chase the jockey, I unwarily joined a line at the counter of a Fast Food establishment which seemed to have grasped neither of the concepts inherent to that phrase. I watched a young actress in front of me in agonies of indecisiveness about the pie she wanted that would put Hamlet to shame. It was quite as if she were choosing a mortgage as she swithered between three possible pastries. “I’m on a diet, you see”, she explained to the young girl next to her. By the time she’d ordered she had surely completed it. But this was only half the problem, for behind the counter, the young man dispensing the inedible comestibles on offer moved with all the swiftness of tectonic plates, examining and counting out my change with a puzzlement that indicated that I’d paid him in Drachma rather than pounds sterling. By this time I’d long given up my evening show and started to wonder whether I’d make the one I had next morning.

Still, there are a few places, which given a spare half hour that are worth the visit. Good warm rolls are available at the Traverse, while in the Pleasance Dome, there’s an agreeable and inexpensive curry kitchen. Last year I ate there for a week. But you can lose a lot of friends that way…

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