Saturday, September 3, 2016

Feast Season

One of the best things about September is the many festivals and feasts that occur. These are a foodie's dream with local and ethnic specialties on sale.They're a fun way to celebrate and to experience local specialties.

The month is harvest time in Italy and many southern Italian immigrants brought harvest fests with them. This is apparent in North Jersey where I am. For the last one hundred years St. Joseph's Church in  nearby Lodi designates the Labor Day weekend to celebrate both the church and the St. Joseph Society,it is a multi block celebration. Parishioners donate time and food to create the same memorable dishes that their parents, grandparents and great grandparents made. There is homemade pizza  and sausage and peppers. In past years there was zucchini au gratin, a tasty squash casserole ith a thick layer of Parmesan cheese. The festival also features zeppoli , the fried dough balls that are dredged in a thick coating of confectioner's sugar. This Neopolitan treat is a staple there as is both regular and iced cappuccino. There are also stands that sell fresh torrone, the almond studded nougat popular through out the Italian Republic along with dried and salted chickpeas call ceces (pronounced cheechees). The same stand has my favorite - fresh biscotti. There's nothing like them, double in size than the regular ones, perfect with a swipe of butter on it.

One of the biggest Italian feasts San Gennaro is also this month.It has been held annually since 1926  and is going into its' ninetieth year. It was started by immigrant families living on Mulberry Street. along with shop owners. Funds raised were given to needy families. The festival grew from a few days to eleven days.There's also one in the Italian section in the Bronx with much of the same food.It also spread to Las Vegas while Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Corolla brought it to Los Angeles in 2003 where it's been a staple since.Not only is there pizzas and sausage and peppers , There are also calzones, those ricotta cheese and filled little sacks of pizza dough that are dipped in pizza sauce. The San Gennaro festival was usually the first place that many tourists first tasted gelati and Italian ice. The festival is still known for its' flavorful lemon and orange ices as well as ice cream that has strong echoes of gelaterie in Rome. Not to be outdone, there are also German festivals too, mainly to celebrate Steuben Day, named after one of the architects of the American Revolution General Von Steuben. There are also celebrations that have hock and bratwurst as well as weissebier and jaegermeister.

September is the time for festivals and food. Celebrate with fun festival foods and traditions. It's a great way  to honor saints and harvest times.

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