My family has made a tradition of going to the Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, NY every year since 2001. We loved it, it loved us, and things were lovely. That is, until it came to meal time. Believe it or not, they don’t offer vegan turkey legs! There’s no Tofurkey to be seen. Not under the mud, not over the dragons, not through the joust, not inside the corset shops. Nowhere! What’s a starving vegan to do?
In the past, I’ve stuck to outside food. Usually, we’ll eat a big breakfast and then eat a big dinner afterwards, but what fun is that? Amidst all the clothing and Shakespearian talk and silver goblets, eating a pickle from a barrel or ices from a tub is just not enough. Eventually, a person needs food. Especially when you’re wearing entirely black and hats and armour and walking in the blazing sun for several hours. It can get intense!
I got so used to this habit that by the time they were offering vegetarian and vegan options, I was opposed to stopping my gallivanting and having some food. This year, however, I was SO hungry, and my parents were SO hungry, that we simply could not step forth once more until we had satisfied our howling guts. That’s how you know it’s serious.
And so we sought out food amidst a land of savages and heathen ingrates. Lamb and honey and milk and shame. Beef and fish and turkey and ice cream upon ice cream upon ice cream. Wherefore art thou dairy and meat?
I suppose it didn’t help any that I was to that point of hunger in which the human can no longer tolerate indecision. Nothing looked good and I felt nothing at that point could satisfy my ravenous needs. We then took a break and went to the joust. All I could wonder was, “Hm… where did this guy eat lunch? He probably got McDonald’s. Jerk.”
Eventually, I became so frantically hungry that I knew I had only one option… to alert the Queen herself. This would be no easy task, but this was my final chance to prove myself worthy of a food blog. If I could not find vegan food at an event for the meat, grease, and mead crowd, then I did not deserve to call myself a food blogger, a traveler, or a hero amongst the young and needy. Hear me roar, dang it!
I approached the Queen in my most respectable manner. With a curtsy I displayed my most pathetic set of icy blue iris’ that had ever looked upon She.
From afar I cried out, “Queen, my Queen, please hear me out. For I am empty of food and needy of nourishment. Please help me to satisfy this ever-growing agony. Please be of good faith, of good nature, of entire goodness. Where will thee who wishes to fill thine belly full of foods lacking animal cruelty be fed most well?”
It was then that she looked upon me with disgust, yet a tinge of empathy, and she spoke. “Follow the court of foods and ye shall find foods of the Mediterranean. At this booth, one will find nourishment of the kindest and least cruel kind. Be fed, peasant, and be away with ye.”
YEAH! Mediterranean food is WHAT IS UP. I’m about to get fed up real good!
So we began our trek. Through gypsies and Scots. Through jugglers and sword-wielding tots. Through the muck and heat, through the African drum beat. Mind you, I am not sure, either, why there are African drums at these things, but don’t ask this unless you’re prepared to ask about the pirates, as well. I simply don’t have time to question accuracy when hunger is afoot.
Getting lost is the biggest challenge, even after years and years of practice. The setup never changes much, even the faces remain the same, yet we never have any idea where we are. If this village seeks a fool, a fool or three it has found. We’re idiots when it comes to directions. Such is life.
Conveniently enough, the sign we found for the food we sought was in the form of a compass. How they mock us so!
Gyros? Wraps? Salads and falafel? All things I love! Oh, boy, oh, boy! This brought me great joy. Even the food server guy was looking edible at that point. Sorry, but seriously. He kind of looked like a mushroom, or seitan drenched in tomato sauce with a basil leaf on top. I would not complain about hairs in my food.
Of course, once we got up to bat, I simply couldn’t contain my enthusiasm. I had no idea what to order. I wanted everything- ALL the food! Unfortunately and fortunately, this wasn’t an option. The kind gentleman server was more than happy to suggest what us three hungry hippos should try: vegan stew and the platter of mixed sides. This, sounding delicious and satisfying won the prize: a six to eight hour trip through our tummies. Sorry, food server, I guess you and my stomach will just have to remain platonic.
Insert sexy food music here. Bow chicka wow wow! Look at the couscous. Look at it and envy my mouth.
I wouldn’t say it was surprising, but just as the food was served up, the rain clouds decided to do their rain thing. They were all like, “Your joy belongs to us now! MWAHAHAHA!”
But then we cloud-blocked it and just got a little drizzle; not even enough to stop our munching. Though, I can’t imagine that much could have stopped us once we started. I would have fought off a dragon, two angry wenches, and a pixie on steroids at that point, if it meant eating in peace.
At this point, I ate. I ate. I ate and ate. I ate so much. I also had iced mint tea.
PSA: Dehydration is serious- don’t mess with the sweats!
What did I think of my Renaissance foods? I had a ball eating everything! It was messy and full of spices and warmth and kitten whiskers. No whiskers in the food, don’t worry, that’s just an expression I made up right now.
But before I get caught up in my happiness and hunger-satiation, I want to tell you about each food item. Honestly, most of these foods confused me a bit. The falafel was good, the couscous and tabouli were certainly yummy, but I don’t know that I’ve ever had these versions of them. As in, they didn’t really taste like what they were supposed to be. The falafel, to start, was kind of like an Indian aloo tikki, minus the Indian spices. I can’t say exactly what was different, but the colour and the texture just didn’t give me a Mediterranean feeling. Nonetheless, they weren’t dry, and they were tasty, so I really can’t complain! Also, falafel is made very differently depending on which culture inspired you. The same can be said about the couscous and tabouli, I suppose. Same problems, same not caring. I really didn’t come to the Renaissance Faire hoping to eat some authentic Mediterranean food. If that’s your goal, go away.
It’s hard to judge the other items since it all kind of blended together. This was good, since I wanted to shovel in as much food at once as possible. I did note the eggplant, which was made really well, but also the olives that were way too olive-y for me. I guess I needed a more subtle olive, while others might enjoy that little kick in an otherwise more low-key dish. The stuffed grape leaves were fine, too. They fell apart, but, seriously… who cares?
The stew, which was totally a great choice in 95 degree weather, was also quite good. There was a bit of an after taste that I can’t put my finger on, but there were so many veggies in there to make up for it.
As for price, you go to a Renaissance Faire, you pay Renaissance Faire prices. ‘Nuff said. It was a tasty meal and the service and atmosphere couldn’t be beat. Matter of fact, I found out that the server (and cook?) is a social worker! I’m telling you, food and psyche go together like hugs and hammers…. This makes sense in my mind.
If you’re at the Faire this year, be sure to stop by the Mediterranean Fare stand for a big plate of tasty food. If it could satisfy my hunger, it can satisfy yours. Say, “Hello!” for me, too!
I give this timeless meal….
9/10 unicorn hugs
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In the meantime, get satisfied!