I took my bearded friend to Chinatown for dim sum. It was going to be a lazy day, wandering Manhattan. We chose one of the myriad restaurants, ate well and then crossed the street to Little Italy.
From shrimp and noodles suddenly we are in the land of pastries and ices, zeppole (deep-fried dough balls) and sausages – and more sausages. People are dressed in weird costumes, local men are shouting at each other across the street, and mamas are cooking sausages. People are gorging and boozing, and not even bothering to cover bottles with the usual brown paper bags as they drink – sausages in their other hand. Its the Festival of San Gennaro, brought to New York by immigrants from Naples. Saint Gennaro, or Januarius was martyred in the 4th century AD. His statue will parade through the street during one day of the festival.
There’s row upon row of food stalls, flashing lights, big wheels, skittle boards, huge crowds. I’m all for racing on but my bearded friend is like the suburbanites who come into Manhattan for this annual event. Their eyes are wide, they wander along rather than walk with New-York-purpose, they are curious, and they are respectful of other walkers! We wander on, not racing. More ices, zeppole, sausages and crowds. Next to ‘The best sausages in New York’, there’s a stall where you can win a six-foot-long banana and take it home to remind you of the day the saint encourages people to enjoy themselves , and turns a blind eye to gluttony.