Monday, September 13, 2010


Get an atypical New York street faire experience a mere spittin' distance from my front door at the Belmont Business Improvement District's Ferragosto Festival. NYC is infamous for the same 20 vendors showing up at every summer street fair on the island, hawking the same tired wares to the same tired tourists. Only their (the out-of-towners) names and faces change. Ferragosto has local businesses selling fresh hot food and sweets to families and friends who come back to the neighborhood year after year. Ferragosto 2010 was this past Sunday on Arthur Avenue and not even the cool dreary weather could keep folks away. The Lone Ranger showed up to sip sangria and sample grilled meats with me. We ran into students from the University, my favorite barkeep & his wife, and crowds of locals that I see every weekend on my regular shopping trips.
Ferragosto was originally a mid-summer pagan holiday in Augustan Rome, celebrating fertility and ripening. There were probably lots of bare breasts on display. Sorry, I see the word ripening, and my mind wanders to boobies. Anyhow, the Roman Catholic Church - like with a lot of ancient celebrations - co-opted the party by taking all the fun away and making it a holy day of obligation to commemorate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Politicians Popes decreed almost 2000 years after her death that Mary, "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." I know, it's complicated.
But before I offend anymore of my devoted readers, take a gander at Little Italy's interpretation of a summer harvest festival!
Meat grilled over open fires played a major supporting role in the festival.
Wannabe gangsters, fathers pushing baby strollers, sober academics, bent-over grandfathers all puffed away on hand-rolled cigars.
The street was blocked off and local restaurants brought out tables and chairs for dining al fresco. Fromaggio di Parma was proudly displayed along with her co-star, dried salami.
Suckling pig got top billing. It took 15 minutes of elbowing and contorting between horrified children and satisfied looking Italian matrons to get these shots. I should have them blown up and framed for my efforts.
As a reward for valiant perseverance, I treated the Lone Ranger and myself to Enzo's baked polenta and a couple of Peronis, Birra Nastro Azzurro*.
Ferragosto is a true community enterprise. Every local shop owner gets involved. There is such a convivial display of camaraderie, because everyone KNOWS everybody else. Even outsiders don't stay strangers long. So much more personal than those fly-by-night operations in dreary old Manhattan, don't you think?
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food
* Blue Ribbon beer

1 comment:

BigAssBelle said...

Yum! Looks like you had a great day. As usual, nothing even remotely like it in T-town. Sigh.