The annual San Gennaro Festival is currently taking place in Little Italy; the last day this year is Sunday 9/25. I checked it out a couple of days ago.
Hubby is Italian – so, I’m part Italian by marriage, right?
Turns out I love just about all things Italian.
The San Gennaro Festival is a religious event – well, their website says it best:
“The 85th Annual Feast of San Gennaro, New York City’s longest-running, biggest and most revered religious outdoor festival in the United States, will be held Thursday, September 15, through Sunday, September 25, 2011, on the streets of historic Little Italy, the lower Manhattan neighborhood which served as the first home in America for hundreds of thousands of Italian immigrants who came here seeking to improve their lives beginning in the early part of the 20th century.”
Religious yes, but honestly, I think a lot of people attend for the food.
Ah, the food…
I saw a woman in the crowd with a stuffed artichoke, and I died on the spot. I asked her where she got it, and after she told me I high-tailed it to my first food vendor
and then happily walked down the street with my very own stuffed artichoke.
I settled in momentarily at one of the little Beer/Wine Gardens to enjoy my delicious lunch.
No, those empty bottles are NOT discards from my lunch – they are part of the “decor”. 🙂
Then, for dessert – ONLY so I could experience it to share with the blog – I *forced* myself to devour a baby-sized cannoli.
It was pure torture.
What did I NOT eat, you ask?
Let me show you…
Italian sausage – the aroma of onions and peppers and garlic wafting throughout the Festival was simply mouth-watering!
Seafood salad, fried calamari and shrimp:
Pastas of all sorts, lasagna and meatballs:
and mountains of the Italian candy called Torrone, which is made from honey, sugar, and egg whites, with toasted almonds or other nuts.
Please remind me, why didn’t I sample the Torrone?
I’ve officially just made myself hungry! I am going to have to visit the festival again before it ends!
Now, it’s not ALL ABOUT the food. There are other vendors and events, as well.
There are a few vendors who hand-roll cigars for sale.
There are sand pits set up for Bocce tournaments:
I was intrigued by this vendor demonstrating and selling grater plates.
I ended up buying one, and I used it last night. It’s marvelous!
You can grate garlic, nutmeg, hard cheese, chocolate, ginger, horseradish… with no waste the way you get with presses and even microplanes.
(If you are interested, here’s their website.)
I visited a couple of the churches in Little Italy. They are amazing!
Here is Old Saint Patrick’s Cathedral:
And here is the Most Precious Blood Church:
Both have just stunning architecture and history.
The other thing that I really wanted to view while in Little Italy was the original site of Umberto’s Clam House.
Hubby had recommended this book called “I Heard You Paint Houses“, and I had just finished reading it.
“I heard you paint houses” are the first words Jimmy Hoffa ever spoke to Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran. To paint a house is to kill a man. The paint is the blood that splatters on the wall and floors.
This is a fascinating book, and very well-written. It’s basically the death-bed confessions of a mob gangster named Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, who “whacked” many people (25+) during his career. He claims to have shot his good friend Jimmy Hoffa on mob orders, and claims to have been involved in supplying the rifles for the mob-organized assassination of John Kennedy.
He also claims to have been the single shooter in the 1972 mob-related assassination of “Crazy” Joe Gallo – which took place inside of Umberto’s Clam House in Little Italy.
Umberto’s has since changed locations. I believe that this is the spot where “Crazy” Joe Gallo was gunned down while in-between his seafood courses:
129 Mulberry Street. It’s pretty creepy to stand here and envision the action that took place that took place just inside that doorway to the right.
The inside of many of these bars and restaurants look just the same as they did a century ago, when they were first built.
I loved every moment during my visit. Little Italy is an amazing area to wander around, despite the throngs of tourists and locals. The history is mind-blowing, and the energy during the San Gennaro Festival is infectious.
If you are in the area, be sure to check it out!
I’m going back for some of that Torrone as soon as possible!