Happy Holidays!

It’s that time of year again… the chilly weather, holiday shopping, and my favorite, all the holiday events to attend! This past weekend I visited the two-day event at Balboa Park known as “December Nights”, a major local attraction filled with music, festivities, and lots of food. During those two days, all museums are open to the public for FREE. Friends and I quickly grabbed the chance to tour the Natural History Museum, which is rarely free, and were delighted at the sights. The museum had set up all kinds of exhibits, an Arctic room, a Prehistoric room, and a level dedicated to displaying skulls of different creatures throughout history. As a small gesture for the holidays, the museum included a brass quintet that played festive music all night.

T-Rex wanted to share some holiday cheer too!

Now on to the FOOD! Everything at Balboa was amazing, I literally ate all night. What was great about the experience was that each international house participated in the event, showcasing food from their native country. Ever since I studied abroad in Italy, I’ve had a fondness for anything Italian and this time was no exception. One of the first stops on our food quest was the Italy House where I grabbed a quick treat to eat (a cannoli) and an espresso. Alongside this, we had a tiramisu and some baklava from the neighboring Iraq House. The notion of “no dessert before dinner” was out the window even before we stepped foot in the park. Afterwards, we proceeded to the House of Scotland where I had the opportunity to try haggis for the first time. I must say it was very delicious, despite knowing what it was made out of. Then we navigated our way to the House of Sweden and placed an order for traditional Swedish meatballs with gravy and lingonberry sauce. Their meatballs tasted delicious and were quite comparable to the kind you get at IKEA, except juicier. Next on the list we headed towards the House of the Philippines, my parents’ native country. Once there, we tried toron (a dessert composed of banana coated with sugar and rice paper, then fried) and lumpia (a traditional Philippine eggroll). You would think our journey had ended there but we still had room for a little “bite” more. We stopped by the France booth, which was a very long line, to order dessert crepes filled with Nutella and strawberry sauce. It only cost $2 each but with a tradeoff of 40 min. of waiting in line. To be honest, it was not worth waiting for that amount of time. We rounded off our food quest with free samples of a traditional Argentine dish consisting of a special bread topped with oil and spices. All this food and we only spent about $14 each!

Throughout the day, visitors could also participate in games, ride carnival rides, and watch performances at several of the stages scattered in the park. I personally enjoyed listening to the the various choirs that performed in the amphitheater in front of the 3 story-tall Christmas tree. At nighttime during the telling of the Christmas Story, the tree opened up to display different scenes of the story as the narrator spoke. Sipping my apple cider, I couldn’t help but be amazed at all the mini-events that were going on around me. That night really put me in the holiday spirit!

I wish you all a Happy Holiday and thanks for reading my blog!
‘Til next time,
~ AJ


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