Walking around Balboa Park and trying to eat my way “around the world” was not uncommon. At this year’s December Nights, I overheard many people yell to their companions which country they were going to eat next.
“I’ll meet you over by the House of Germany. I’m going over to France and a slice of buche de Noel.”
Unfortunately, I also overheard many people pronounce gyro as gi-ro. Yeesh.
For me, the only thing holding me back was limited space capacity. My stomach wasn’t built to hold the entire United Nations over the course of two nights. But that didn’t stop me from trying.
At this year’s 30th annual December Nights, access to all the museums was free as it is every year during this event. All the festive decorations, carolers and the Cirque de Soleil stage in the middle of the rainy chaos helped even this Scrooge get into the holiday spirit. The number of Santa hats that topped many an attendee’s heads rivaled the amount of lap dogs dressed in jaunty sweaters.
But back to the food. Total number of countries consumed: 13. The only rule: not to visit a country twice. After all, we had to maximize the varieties of food eaten. Unfortunately that rule was broken by Mr. Horn when he excitedly saw that the Puerto Rico booth had two of his favorites dishes.
It seemed that most European nations had a sausage sandwich of some type either named as a bratwurst, hot dog, sausage or wieners. Even the United States had their own version at their stall alongside slices of apple pie, coffee and soda. To me, it was unimaginative. Apple pie I get but how about some cornbread?
Despite the rain and thunder the second night, the eating challenge did not loose steam. Here’s a rundown of the countries eaten over the course of two nights.
Ukraine – varenyky (dumplings filled with potato and cheese topped with sour cream)
Finland – meatballs with a slice of bread
Hungary – palacsinta (crepes filled with chocolate pudding or apricot jam)
Puerto Rico – papas de rellenas (pototo balls filled with seasoned meat) and pastelillo (fried pastry with meat)
Austria – apple struedel
Norway – waffle topped with sour cream and strawberry jam
Germany – bratwurst in a roll
Columbia – patacones (fried plantains)
Peru – piccaones (fried dough covered in sweet syrup)
Palestine – chicken shawarma
Czech Republic – pastries
Sweden – meatballs
I think a quote from Mr. Horn sums it all up, “It feels like the United Colors of Benetton in my stomach and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.” Fortunately the next day, no regrets were had… only a desire for more chicken shawarma. More photos here.