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This puzzle is part of the Puzzling Stack Exchange Advent Calendar 2023. The accepted answer to this question will be awarded a bounty worth 50* reputation.
*UPDATE FROM OP: I have decided that instead of giving a single 50-point bounty to one person, I will instead give two 50-point bounties, one to sean47 and one to juicifer, as they had equally contributed the most in the solving of the puzzle.

< Previous Door Next Door >


It was nighttime. The next stage of the puzzle hunt started, and we were told to go to a certain restaurant.

Our team was the last to enter. Once we sat down at our assigned table, two waiters started giving every team the menus.

[ MENU ]

Only cash in the form of Puzzling dollars is accepted.

MOUND ---- Puzzling moneys1.48

Dinner dish commonly seen in some regions of Norway. Lamb ribs in the spotlight, and some rutabaga, potatoes, and sausages.

ORIGIN ---- Puzzling moneys9.70

Swedish rye bread with molasses, brown sugar, and spices. May also incorporate wort, butter, raisins/prunes, or orange peel.

PASSAGE ---- Puzzling moneys7.03

Poultry consumed by indigenous American ethnic groups; the typical main course in Thanksgiving feasts (may be stuffed).

FLABBY ---- Puzzling moneys3.60

A Dutch pastry with almond paste filling. May be served in individual slices, or in whole, shaped into a letter (usually an S).

PASSWORD ---- Puzzling moneys4.45

Anise-flavored biscuit from southern Germany with a detailed pattern popping right out! Crunchy outside, chewy inside.

ARREST ---- Puzzling moneys3.96

Latin American slow-roasted pork leg/shoulder, marinated a day before with spices, salt, and sofrito (garlic, onion, pepper).

REPUBLIC ---- Puzzling moneys6.34

Venezuelan corn dough with filling varying daily (but constantly has beef/pork/chicken stew, raisins, capers, and olives).

THROUGH ---- Puzzling moneys4.83

An Italian-Sammarinese cake eaten all year. Includes honey, cornmeal, bread crumbs, figs, raisins, apples, and citrus rinds.

🎜🎝 62242(_?_) 🎜🎝

I noticed that the waiters had the same name displayed on their name cards. Their appearances were even a bit similar... they're twin brothers, aren't they?

Then, the waiters introduced themselves.

"Hi guys, I'm Ben." "And I'm... also Ben."
"And today we'll be at your service.

To pass this stage of the puzzle hunt, you need to tell us the food item that is hidden in the menu we gave you. And not only that - in return, we will give you servings of the actual food item."

"You heard that right! We prepared it for you. After you figure out what the food is, you get to actually eat it. It's yummy, we promise."

"So go solve now, so you can get the food while it's still hot!"

This better be worth the solve, then. If the food item turns out to be something like blood sausage then I might just quit.

Question: What Christmas delicacy, commonly associated with one country but found in at least three, is hidden in the menu?

Hint 1:

sean47's discovery is correct. But that implies the order of things in the menu is wrong. I mean, why aren't "password" and the description for pinnekjott partnered together? So perhaps we should put them in the right order, then? But which right order?

Hint 2:

Blood-sausage hater here. I'm sorry I didn't tell you guys my observations sooner. It's supposed to be my duty as part of the team. I had noticed that for each meal, both the word, price, and the meal description were printed on paper. The word and price have been glued to the menu, while the description is placed in a transparent plastic slot. It seems like I can take it out...

Puzzle creator here. I'd also like to say that the 62242 string is not used to extract letters in the nth position or anything like that. And to hasten the puzzle-solving process, the menu should give you 16 letters.

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  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This restaurant wouldn't happen to be in Ottawa, would it? :-) $\endgroup$
    – msh210
    Dec 5, 2023 at 9:39
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ A note to potential solvers: If, like for me, the first two and last two characters on the "62242" line look like boxes (or I Ching hexagrams) for you, note that they're actually musical-note characters. $\endgroup$
    – msh210
    Dec 5, 2023 at 9:45
  • $\begingroup$ "also ben" is quite a strange name ... I wonder if that's relevant to the puzzle somehow ;) $\endgroup$
    – juicifer
    Dec 5, 2023 at 13:50
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The description of PASSAGE seems to be describing "turkey". I suspect each description must be identified as a specific named dish. The words and prices are probably used after that. $\endgroup$
    – David G.
    Dec 5, 2023 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ I hope if it does not get solved, @oAlt, Santa will be DOOMED forever. $\endgroup$ Dec 7, 2023 at 20:44

3 Answers 3

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Big shoutout to @sean47, who provided a basis for a lot of this answer, and to @noneuclideanisms for a very important insight. Go check out sean's answer and upvote it if you haven't already.

The answer, as sean managed to find via an incorrect route, is in fact

BIBINGKA, a traditional Filipino Christmas dish.

To find out why, we must first find out the actual foods these dishes are describing (credit to sean47):

the Norwegian lamb dish is PINNEKJØTT (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinnekj%C3%B8tt)
the Swedish rye bread is LIMPA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limpa) the indigenous American poultry is TURKEY (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkey_meat
the Dutch pastry is BANKETSTAAF (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_letter)
the German cookie is SPRINGERLE (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springerle)
the Latin American pork roast is PERNIL (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pernil)
the Venezuelan corn dough is HALLACA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallaca)
the Italian/Sammarinese cake is BUSTRENGO (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bustr%C3%A8ng)

We can also match each of these up with one of the names for the dishes, as follows (credit again to sean47):

each of the dishes' names starts with a synonym for one of the names on the menu:

MOUND - BANKetstaaf
ORIGIN - SPRINGerle
PASSAGE - HALLaca
FLABBY - LIMPa
PASSWORD - PINnekjøtt
ARREST - BUSTrengo
REPUBLIC - TURKEY
THROUGH - PERnil

As instructed in hint 2, we'll need to keep them in that order. But what to do with the prices? Well, as @noneuclideanisms pointed out in a comment,

each description has exactly 99 words, which seems like it aligns perfectly with the "cents" value in the prices.

This is finally where I come in. I tried

indexing both the dollars and cents values into the descriptions, but that got me nowhere.

Then I realized that

while the names on the menu weren't all long enough to index into by the dollar amounts, the names of the actual dishes were!

This means that

each dish will give us two letters - one from the name of the dish and one from its description - adding up to the 16 letters we were promised in hint 2. Let's see what we find:

Banketstaaf - P1.48 - 1st letter of name is B - 48th letter of description is I ("...served in individual...")
Springerle - P9.70 - 9th letter of name is L - 70th letter of description is H ("...popping right out...")
Hallaca - P7.03 - 7th letter of name is A - 3rd letter of description is N ("Venezuelan corn dough...")
Limpa - P3.60 - 3rd letter of name is M - 60th letter of description is O ("...also incorporate wort...")
Pinnekjøtt - P4.45 - 4th letter of name is N - 45th letter of description is A ("...Norway. Lamb ribs...")
Bustrengo - P3.96 - 3rd letter of name is S - 96th letter of description is I ("...and citrus rinds.")
Turkey - P6.34 - 6th letter of name is Y - 34th letter of description is A ("...American ethnic groups...")
Pernil P4.83 - 4th letter of name is N - 83rd letter of description is G ("...(garlic, onion, pepper).")

I had been playing around with these letters already before the order was confirmed, but - and admittedly I got to this part backwards, but I'll explain it forwards -

the 6 2 2 4 2 ?, surrounded by music notes, is not used for letter indexing, but is in fact an enumeration - notice that it sums to the 16 letters we have! Googling BILHAN MO YA SIYA NG brings up the lyrics to a song called "Bibingya" by the group Ben&Ben!

Shoutout again to sean47's Google-fu skills for finding this part out despite skipping a step!

Therefore, the final answer is

whatever replaces the question mark. Immediately following "Bilhan mo na siya ng" comes the title of the song, BIBINGKA!

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  • $\begingroup$ well done @juicifer - not sure i would've ever got the right method! impressive stuff $\endgroup$
    – sean47
    Dec 8, 2023 at 22:41
  • $\begingroup$ (1/3) Very, very well done to you, sean47, and noneuclideanisms for figuring out how the puzzle worked and what the answer was! I had worries about the puzzle, and ultimately learned what areas of puzzle-making I should improve in, but at least you all made most of those worries disappear. To @sean47 : well done on finding the first major step to take in the puzzle and finding the actual answer (though in an unintended way, which is the puzzle creator's fault) and realizing rot13(gur fvtavsvpnapr bs gur jnvgref)! I was worried no one would find that major step, but I'm glad someone did :) $\endgroup$
    – oAlt
    Dec 9, 2023 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ (2/3) To @noneuclideanisms : Well done on your assist! I was worried no one would rot13(cnl nggragvba gb gur qvfu qrfpevcgvbaf ntnva), but again I'm glad I was proven wrong :) And to juicifer: Well done on figuring out the intended puzzle-solving path, and how the rest of the puzzle worked! (Though partly through working backward, which again is the setter's fault.) I was worried rot13(ab bar jbhyq rkgenpg gur evtug yrggref va gur evtug beqre fvapr gur rkgenpgvba cebprff jnf n ovg pbzcyvpngrq), so I'm relieved you got there :) $\endgroup$
    – oAlt
    Dec 9, 2023 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ (3/3) I'll give the checkmark to juicifer, but I'll give the bounty later. I'm still undecided on how much to give and to how many people. $\endgroup$
    – oAlt
    Dec 9, 2023 at 8:54
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    $\begingroup$ thanks for kindly awarding me some bounty @oAlt and juicifer $\endgroup$
    – sean47
    Dec 11, 2023 at 22:55
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+50
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Ok so I have an answer but not the most perfect method. I think the answer is the Christmas food:

BIBINGKA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibingka)

a lot more christmassy than pig lips ;) onto the method..

First up, the menu has Christmas dishes on it from different countries:

PINNEKJOTT (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinnekj%C3%B8tt). LIMPA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limpa). TURKEY (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkey_meat. BANKETSTAAF (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_letter). SPRINGERLE (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springerle). PERNIL (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pernil). HALLACA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallaca). BUSTRENGO (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bustr%C3%A8ng)

Then I noticed with the random words that there are:

SYNONYMS FOR THESE WORDS AT THE START OF THE NAMES OF THE DISHES

Answers:

MOUND = BANKETSTAAF

ORIGIN = SPRINGERLE

PASSAGE = HALLACA

FLABBY = LIMPA

PASSWORD = PINNEKJOTT

ARREST = BUSTRENGO

REPUBLIC = TURKEY

THROUGH = PERNIL

So what to do next? Put it in a different order. Still not sure how the prices tie in but in the end this way yielded a positive result:

ORIGIN (SPRINGERLE)

FLABBY (LIMPA)

PASSAGE (HALLACA)

REPUBLIC (TURKEY)

PASSWORD (PINNEKJOTT)

THROUGH (PERNIL)

ARREST (BUSTRENGO)

MOUND (BANKETSTAAF)

From that, using the 62242??? string on the food items I obtained the letters:

SPRINGERLE. LIMPA. HALLACA. TURKEY. PINNEKJOTT. PERNIL. BUSTRENGO. BANKETSTAAF - GIAKINBB

which when re-arranged spell the word:

BIBINGKA

A bit of googling and it was discovered:

Ben & Ben, our waiters, are a pop-folk band from the Philippines

who

have a song called BIBINGKA!

For the true method - as the words and prices don't move, this is surely the correct order.

MOUND 1.48 A Dutch pastry.... ORIGIN 9.70 Anise-flavored.... PASSAGE 7.03 Venezuelan corn.... FLABBY 3.60 Swedish rye bread... PASSWORD 4.45 Dinner dish.... ARREST 3.96 An Italian-Sammarinese.. REPUBLIC 6.34 Poultry consumed... THROUGH 4.83 Latin American...

But two from each to make 16, seems like letter counting but it's coming out as gibberish. Perhaps i've been staring at it too long.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well done on rot13(vqragvslvat gur qvfurf naq svaqvat gur fcrpvsvp eryngvba orgjrra gur qvfurf naq gur jbeqf)! So far only that part is correct; I have added a hint as an attempt to steer you and others toward the right direction. $\endgroup$
    – oAlt
    Dec 6, 2023 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ Also, tiny nitpick: rot13(juvyr erchoyvp + ghexrl vf gur evtug cnvevat, gur obyqrq cneg, "Ghex", vfa'g n erchoyvp). $\endgroup$
    – oAlt
    Dec 6, 2023 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ thanks I will amend turkey, are the prices relevant then? $\endgroup$
    – sean47
    Dec 6, 2023 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, they're relevant 👍 $\endgroup$
    – oAlt
    Dec 6, 2023 at 17:59
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    $\begingroup$ possible lead rot13(rnpu qrfpevcgvba vf rknpgyl avargl avar yrggref ybat - hfr gur prag inyhrf bs gur cevprf gb vaqrk vagb gur qrfpevcgvbaf fbzrubj?) $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2023 at 21:58
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Partial Solution

MOUND ---- $1.48 Pinnekjøtt

ORIGIN ---- $9.70 Limpa (Vörtlimpa?)

PASSAGE ---- $7.03 Turkey

FLABBY ---- $3.60 Banket (Banketstaaf?)

PASSWORD ---- $4.45 Springerle

ARREST ---- $3.96 Pernil

REPUBLIC ---- $6.34 Hallaca

THROUGH ---- $4.83 Bustrengo

Conclusion

All foods mentioned are Christmas dishes

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    $\begingroup$ Just some feedback to help you for the future... I suspect the downvotes are because what you've posted here is considered too partial even for a 'partial answer' as it's just the very first step in a multi-step puzzle, posted not very long after the puzzle was posted. This relatively small amount of content is probably better as a comment if at all, and probably best to keep trying to answer more of the puzzle before committing the resulting more substantial progress to an answer. Keep trying! :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Dec 6, 2023 at 13:35
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    $\begingroup$ You have correctly identified the dishes (though you can still accurately determine a single name for the second one) :) And of course, there's more going on in the puzzle... $\endgroup$
    – oAlt
    Dec 6, 2023 at 17:07

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