Every May the annual 9th Avenue Food Festival kick off in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen – offering a taste of what this famous neighbourhood is cooking up as restaurants set up outdoor stalls serving up a gastronomic extravaganza.
I found the expected latin accents at the 9th Avenue Food Festival; such as Spanish Mexican empanadas and Brazilian feijoada, as well as less well-known cuisines from places as far flung as Ethiopia and the Ukraine, and everywhere in between.
It is all delicious and there is a constant flow of fresh lemonade, pina coladas and cold watermelon in the sultry May weather, but the best thing about this festival is the people.
A man stops in the middle of the street, puts down his bag and begins to dance, with his beer can, to the latin music pumping out from the nearest food stall. A crowd gathers to watch. At the end of the song he finishes his gyrations and carries on.
The 9th Avenue Food Festival really feels like a neighbourhood festival writ large for New York City. Not glamorous but genuinely good and positively eccentric.
Thousands of regular New Yorkers and visitors mingle and munch their way between 34th and 57th streets in mid May every year.
By Natasha von Geldern
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