This is the 87th year of the 11 day festival which was established to in part to keep alive the spirit and faith of the early Italian immigrants (the festival runs along Mulberry Street and what is left of Little Italy). According to their website:
The central focus of the celebration takes place every September 19th, the official Saint Day when a celebratory Mass is held in Most Precious Blood Church, followed immediately by a religious procession in which the Statue of San Gennaro is carried from its permanent home in the church through the streets that comprise Little Italy.
It goes on to say:
Although this is an annual celebration of faith, the Feast of San Gennaro is known the world over for its festive atmosphere, an 11-day event featuring religious processions and colorful parades, free musical entertainment every day, a wide variety of ethnic food delicacies, charming restaurants and cafes and even a world-famous cannoli-eating competition!
“A wide variety of ethnic food delicacies”….really? When I first landed in NYC I lived in Chinatown which is adjacent to Little Italy and I remember my friend at the time telling me I had to check out San Gennaro. It, like NYC to me at the time, was overwhelming in its crowded, gaudy, enormity. For years I avoided it, dismissed it as something mostly for tourists. A couple of years back I revisited it when I heard that they were having local foodies setting up shop. That didn’t seem to stick although in my annual walk through this year I noticed the usual Tiki Drink vendors, some local gals making good off of the “cronut” crazy (donuts made from croissant dough) and the usual barrage of deep-fried everything….mostly the favorite thing Italians at this festival like to deep fry is that traditional Nepalese delicacy: Oreos.
the newest and trendiest fried food at San Genarro this here is by far the Cronut – I saw two vendors selling them and if you buy them here you at least don’t have to wait 4 hours in line to get on….Probably my favorite fried food is also actually at least vaguely Italian…Pina Colada Tiki Bar type stalls are everywhere, apparently a Blue Hawaiian is the perfect drink to go with your fried pickle and deep-fried Oreo snack.
Lest you think I’m just writing about the “food” in this festival to make fun of it, think again, what most amazed me about my walk down Mulberry street was how much of the food looked really good, here are some of my favorites…
to the not so traditional.and that’s the thing about this big loveable festival it has something for everyone. I have only look at the food, but there is entertainment, games, and lots of other typical state fair like entertainments. My advice is to go early in the evening – there will still be a crowd but it will be bearable and the food will still be plentiful and fresh – nab some of that great looking fresh-baked red sauce pasta or lasagna, some sausage, onions and pepper, maybe a spinach and cheese Spanakopita and find yourself a stoop. Just say some room for a cannoli or maybe this year you might want to be adventuresome and have a cronut. Anyway you look at it you know you will have fun,