Last Thursday when I posted about German Christmas markets I admit I was feeling a bit sorry for myself that I couldn’t be there this year. Traditional food and drink, artisan wares, community gathering. I was pleasantly surprised three days later by a fest that took place not two blocks from our house and supplied a local taste of tradition and community – SoNo Park Holiday Fest. This festival didn’t masquerade as an “authentic imitation” of a European market. It was an authentic community gathering in a San Diego neighborhood that is establishing traditions of its own.
Few foods are as traditional American as chili. Across the United States regions boast they have the best chili – some sweet, some spicy, some meaty, some vegan. Look for a recipe online and you’ll get thousands of hits. This festival featured at least 40 varieties created by local restaurants and families in the community. I sampled a variety that featured butternut squash and wild game, and another that featured at least five different kinds of meat including lamb and duck. Before sampling I purchased a ceramic bowl made by the local ceramics shop. Fifty percent of the proceeds went to the local elementary school. I refilled my bowl no less than ten times – there were so many to try! And, like the Christmas market mugs in Germany, we got to keep the bowl as a souvenir. Nice thing about this market is that my toes didn’t freeze.