While most fairgoers enjoyed a hot dog and a Coke, more adventuresome foodees, often with deep pockets, could explore the world's cuisine in the international pavilions.
The fair's international pavilions provided "ham-and-egg patriots" and true gourmets the "golden gastronomical opportunity" of a lifetime. New York, nor any other American city, probably ever experienced such a variety of authentic, excellent foreign fare within such a small and convenient area. A noted food critic estimated it would take "a serious winer-and-diner eight days at the rate of two meals a day" to cover the fair's foodstuffs.
The following tour of many of the foreign pavilion restaurants will certainly whet twenty-first century appetites.
Patrons entered the restaurant over a low bridge spanning a flower-edged pool with fountains. The glass-walled restaurant offered chicken with rice as its most popular national dish. Patrons could prepare their own steaks on small, fireproof charcoal burners brought to each table. A fascinating dessert titled "Little Drunkards" turned out to be sponge cake soaked in anise-flavored cognac then set aflame tableside. Gertrude Green acted as purchasing manager for the restaurant, one of the rare women to fulfill that role on the fairgrounds.
The Belgium restaurant offered baby eels, no bigger than toothpicks, chicken in the pot Flemish style, and Hochpot Gantoir, the Belgian equivalent of a New England boiled dinner, which took fifty-minutes to prepare. Burgundies were offered as the featured wine.
The terrace restaurant reminded many diners of the deck of a dream liner that never left the docks. The wind often caught the yellow and blue tablecloths to further the illusion.
The restaurant provided one of the finest views for the evening fireworks and music display on the Lagoon of Nations. To that end, many patrons selected tables around 5:00, partaking of pastry and coffee, rather than cocktails, until the 9:00 performance.
Czecho - Slovakia
The Czech pavilion provided two dining experiences, a garden location and the air conditioned Old Prague Restaurant designed in dark wood and wrought iron. Karel Jezek, the former owner of a famous Prague hotel, managed the restaurant. The pavilion's most popular drink was Pilsener Urquell beer. As war worries increased, Mr. Jezek reassured patrons the restaurant possessed ample supplies of the beer until the end of the fair's season
Eiler Jorgensen directed the upstairs Danish restaurant. Mr. Jorgensen claimed he had not had a drink of water for two years. Having joined La Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastovin, an exclusive wine-tasting society, membership required a vow to drink only wine.
At the restaurant's opening, a guest exclaimed, "Ah, smorgasbord!" Mr. Jorgensen replied: "Heavens, no! That is American food. We will have a real smorgasbord Friday after the next ship comes in from Copenhagen."
Actually, the Danish referred to their "smorgasbord" as the kolde bord. The Danish version differed from the neighboring Swedes as only cold dishes appeared on the kolde bord. At either lunch or dinner the cost was $2.50.
When patrons complained the plates provided were too small to hold all the delicacies they wished to sample, Mr. Jorgensen advised them to overcome their bashfulness and make a second and third trip. He suggested fish and egg dishes first and then a return trip for meats and cold cuts. A sampling of cheese would entail the third visit.
Emilie Andersen, known as the best cold-table chef in Denmark, served as one of the rare female chefs at the fair. Mrs. Anderson often prepared no less than fifty offerings for the kolde bord. The dishes sat on beds of artificial snow. Mr. Jorgenson declared rich food made sweet dispositions. He revealed Mrs. Andersen used sixteen eggs to prepare a pint of ice cream and counted on four egg yolks per person in mayonnaise.
Even though the Danish restaurant was air conditioned, patrons suffering from the midsummer heat often opted for its cooling buttermilk soup. A favorite dessert choice was Roedgroed, crushed fresh berries served with heavy cream. When Eleanor Roosevelt visited, she informed readers of her My Day column: "We couldn't resist tasting it."
A glass of Cherry Heering proved a memorable Danish liqueur. Waiters served brandy in a block of ice. And the bartender developed a special world's fair cocktail, "The Little Mermaid," a powerful blend of aquavit and rye.
The Danish restaurant became very popular with Broadway personalities. Frederick March and his wife Florence Eldridge reserved a weekly table, as did Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.
Mr. and Mrs. Alva Aato, the pavilion designers, located the restaurant on two tiers overlooking the entire exhibit area. Three divisions of Finnish life-country, people and industries could be seen from the tables. Sibelius symphonies wafted through the air.
Mr. Palcheimo, the pavilion's assistant commissioner, explained "Bounded as we are by so many other countries, our food tastes have been influenced by all of them, but we have our own specialties, of course." One such the restaurant served was the nation's favorite hors d'oeuvres; smoked reindeer meat on toast prepared from an assortment of rye breads. The poronpaisti sandwich featured reindeer meat, an egg, tomato and watercress garnish on rye for fifty cents.
Gypsy musicians enlivened the upstairs dining room. Waitresses informed patrons that paprika, the main ingredient in many of the restaurant's offerings, was "The Soul of Hungary."