Baxter's Blog

ITALIAN INK

Posted in Gallery by misterroadtripper on September 22, 2010

NEW YORK’S ANNUAL SAN GENNARO FESTIVAL

The Feast of San Gennaro is not for the faint of heart. To begin with, this annual celebration redefines crowds, even by New York City standards. On a typical evening, it can take nearly an hour to walk a single city block along the narrow confines of the Mulberry Street venue. If you are dumb enough to drive into the area, the tab for a few hours parking will be about the same as a semester at medical school. Each block—and there are about a dozen—is culinary overload. Okay, many would call it a culinary insult. A single block will offer up pasta in a dozen varieties, sausage heroes by the foot, platters of clams, shrimp and scungilli, zeppole and cannoli and displays of pastries you only saw at wedding scenes in Godfather movies. In true New York tradition, you can probably add a hit of tacos, sushi and udon noodles to the menu.

The combined aromas of foods frying, grilling, baking and boiling mix with spilled beer, up-ended wine bottles and clouds of cigar smoke, fine and otherwise. Recorded Italian music blares from stands, along with rap, hip-hop and Latin beats. Some restaurants setup their own live music. At stages along the street, you can catch sets by cover bands and occasionally some “name” Italian troubadors.

Inter-spaced with the food stands are others offering T-shirts and bumper stickers proclaiming the virtues of being Italian, jewelry, hand rolled cigars, religious articles and the ever popular “games of skill.”

Somewhere in the course of the event there will be religious precessions (hey, it is the Feast of San (Saint!) Gennaro, remember?). Knights of Columbus, a color guard and local parochial high school bands will march up Mulberry Street, followed by a statue of the saint carried by some heavy dudes. In an old tradition, the faithful (and the not so faithful) will pin bills to float as it passes, insuring a successful Feast.

The net result is a heady atmosphere conducive to gorging, over indulging and the rapid emptying of wallets. Every year I swear off the Feast. “This is it for me,” I say. But every year the crowds get bigger and the air is thick with the smell of onions and grilled Italian sausage… and I just can’t resist..

—Maury Englander

P.S. Click images to enlarge.

www.mauryenglander.com

One Response

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  1. Donato said, on October 6, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I love the feast of San Gennaro!! Glad to see my tattoo made it on the page, thanks!


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