I consider myself a champion eater, but I was having something of a mid-afternoon slump when I took on a big fat plate of Swedish food at the Swedish Consulate’s Midsummer Festival in Battery Park. I got home from Barros Luco at 2:45 pm, with a bag of Chilean food clutched in my hands. Silly me, I ate most of it: a Chilean completo (hot dog) with avocado and sauerkraut, followed by half of a beef sandwich and a generous chunk of empanada de pino.
I took my time eating the Chilean food, and finished my meal (or three meals, if you want to get technical about things) at around 3:30. I promised my friends that I’d be in Battery Park for Swedish food by 5:00. I was late, of course, and then we wandered around admiring the lovely blonde women for a little while. We listened to some Swedish choir music against a backdrop of the Statue of Liberty. The weather was perfect. The beer was cold. Life was good.
And then there was the Swedish buffet, which we finally attacked at around 6:00, less than three hours after the end of my Chilean feeding frenzy. For a mere $15, I bought a heaping a plate of… well, pretty much everything that looked even slightly Scandanavian: gravlaks, Swedish meatballs, beets, salmon sausage, potatoes with dill, Swedish green beans, a random bean-and-crouton salad, some pasta of dubious Swedish-ness, and… my favorite… picked herring!
Pickled herring and I first battled on New Year’s Eve, 1989; I lost, and the herring was yakked all over my childhood pal’s bathroom. It’s funny, I don’t even know if the herring was to blame for my churning stomach that night, but I still associate pickled herring with vomit, and I have a hard time eating the stuff, even though I know that it can actually be pretty damned tasty.
For the second time in a few months, I survived the pickled herring, and actually kind of enjoyed it. But I was slumping pretty badly: a man can only handle so many calories in a single afternoon. I bravely battled on, however, eating several big chunks of salmon sausage (it didn’t taste fishy at all—actually, I wouldn’t have believed it was made from salmon if I hadn’t read
the nametag before piling some on my plate), several chunks of herring and gravlaks (Swedish cured salmon–arguably a little bit too salty for my taste, but helped along by the capers and dill), lots of potatoes and beets and string beans with more dill (mmmm… dill!), some pasta (without dill, sadly), and two Heinekens (also without dill, sadly).
I was pretty proud of myself. Despite the ongoing bloat from the Chilean completo, I managed to conquer the entire plate of Swedish food, with the exception of a few bites of pickled herring that I managed to pawn off on my friends. (If I’m going to go down yakking, my friends are going to go down yakking with me. Fortunately, nobody yakked.) As soon as I was done eating, I jumped in a cab, and went directly to the next meal to complete my first food tripleheader in NYC.