Thursday, October 1, 2009

Danish tacos

The town of Solvang, California, is in the middle of Santa Barbara county, in the Santa Ynez valley.

It was founded in 1911 by a group of Danish educators, who opened a Danish-language college, a grade school and a Lutheran Church.

In 1946 civic boosters came up with the idea of transforming the town into a "Danish village" and false fronts were put on the buildings. Fanciful windmills were built. Roofs with decoratively-cut cedar shakes were put on buildings. Soon, it became a tourist attraction. The Annual Danish Days celebration began in 1936, and without realizing it, we picked that weekend this year to make our impromptu getaway to wine country!

Solvang means "sunny field", and the day we went to Solvang was certainly beautiful and sunny. The streets of downtown were closed to traffic, and festival tents were set up. In one street, a group of costumed townspeople performed traditional dances.

There were quite a lot of people in costume, and there were horse-drawn beer wagons to carry fairgoers around the site. I hope the Carlsberg horses weren't drinking the brew!

Here's a horned Viking asking directions at the info booth - which way to the dragonships, please miss?

There were crafts booths with displays of traditional weaving, papercutting, and carving.

Here's a pretty wooden chair decorated in paint - this tradition is called rosemaling, and although it's really Norwegian, I suppose we're all Scandinavian on Danish Days.

As in any immigrant community, the traditions of the Old World have evolved and mingled with those of the New. This fellow was displaying the traditional Scandinavian art carving. Reminds me of a Ballard thing.

Danish tradition holds that the presence of a stork on a rooftop wards off lightning and brings good luck. There were lots of storks on rooftops - only now that I'm going through my photos, I see that I only have one picture!! Oh well. You'll have to go there yourself to see more.

The festival features what they call an Aebleskiver-Eating Contest. What's an Aebleskiver? Sounds like some kind of strange animal, doesn't it?

Well, it's a round, puffed-up fritter or pancake, served with stewed fruit or preserves and powdered sugar. Mmmmm! I'd be up for that!

They also had sausages. Who doesn't like sausages?

But - this is California, after all. So at the Solvang Danish festival, you could also get Santa Maria barbecued tri-tip, wrapped in fresh tortillas!

Viva Denmark, amigo!!!!


Pumpkin Delight said...

I love Solvang. That whole area is so nice. I used to go up there with my parents. It's a cute little place.

Schmutzie said...

This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday -

shaybert said...

It's been years, but we used to go up to Solvang once or twice a year, Sweet Hubby being of Scandinavian heritage, it was a natural destination selection. As the years went by and the main street got longer and longer and they had duplicate stores we visited less. The charm was diluted. But we remember when the delightful pastries at Birkholm's were brought to the table on a tiered platter, (unwrapped) and you ate what you wanted and then paid for what you ate. Kids really got a kick out of that. Our fave was the Danish Waffles: pastry cream and raspberry jam inside a crispy pastry shell. But the Health Dept required change, everything be prepackaged and wrapped. ~sigh~ Not quite as quaint to be served a tiered tray with cellophane wrapped Danish.

Aebleskivers bought from a restaurant window and burning my tongue and fingers is a great memory! Thanks and Blessings! Shay

BrightenedBoy said...

The cultural diversity in this country is a great and astounding thing.

M. Bouffant said...

Doesn't appear to have changed too much in the almost 50 yrs. since I visited.