South Jersey looks a lot like rural North Carolina farm country. I know it’s not, though, because instead of shack-like stores on the side of the two-lane roads selling barbecue, they sell ravioli. Instead of large crosses and “Thank you, Jesus” signs, there are monuments to Padre Pio. It is otherworldly to me, a parallel universe where the Italians took over the Heartland of America. I mean, what says it more than the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a John Deere?
Hammonton, New Jersey, was settled by Italian immigrants during the American Civil War. The community was started by one Sicilian immigrant who encouraged others to come. They did, establishing farms, and their descendants now grow Jersey’s famed tomatoes, blueberries and peaches. Each July, Hammonton also hosts the longest running Italian festival in the U.S., the Our Lady of Mount Carmel festival that celebrates the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16. In its 143rd year, the festival runs from July 9-16. There’s plenty of Italian food, and this is probably the one place in America where you can get broccoli rabe added to your sandwich.
The highlight for me is the procession of the statues in front of Saint Joseph’s Church.
If you donate a dollar, you get a prayer card of the saint that is passing by.
If you travel to the area, don’t forget to visit Penza’s Pies for blueberry pie or Bagliani’s Italian Market for Italian products.
–Dina Di Maio, author of Authentic Italian: The Real Story of Italy’s Food and Its People
Periodically, there’s an article about how Little Italy is dead or dying. Yes, it’s more of a tourist destination and less of a neighborhood where Italian people live. There are still some Italians there, and there are Italian-American-owned businesses there. A recent article in the New York Times made me want to write a series on Little Italy Isn’t Dead and feature some of the businesses there.
Most Precious Blood Church
In 1891, the first part of the Most Precious Blood Church was built by the Scalabrini Fathers and later the Franciscans, who took over funding. It served the local Italian-immigrant community. Mulberry Street became home to immigrants from Naples who celebrated that city’s patron saint, San Gennaro. Most Precious Blood Church is the National Shrine of San Gennaro, and this is the site of the San Gennaro festival that occurs each September.
The church has a mass and the procession of the saint’s statue begins from the church’s front entrance on Baxter Street. There is also a shrine to San Gennaro inside as well as a beautiful grotto.
Another entrance is on Mulberry Street as well as a courtyard where you can pin a dollar on the statue of San Gennaro during the festival. Now, the church has masses in English and Vietnamese.
–Dina Di Maio, author of Authentic Italian: The Real Story of Italy’s Food and Its People, available at Amazon.com
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Posted in America, Festival, History, Italian, Local, New York
Tagged Feast of San Gennaro, Little Italy, Most Precious Blood Church, Mulberry Street, New York, New York City, NYC, San Gennaro
Last year, I did a Two for Tuesday on San Gennaro cannoli and compared the cannoli from Ferrara and La Ferrara. This year, I’m featuring cannoli from Caffe Palermo on Mulberry Street and Caffe Roma on Broome Street. Caffe Palermo has a sign advertising the best cannoli, and it is also the sponsor of the cannoli man.
I thought the cannoli cream and shell were good and had a hint of cinnamon.
Caffe Roma’s cannoli cream was a little less ricotta-y than Caffe Palermo’s and the shell was a bit more cinnamon-y.
My favorite cannoli in Little Italy would probably be a combination of Ferrara’s and La Ferrara’s.
OK, I know it’s two for Tuesday, but I’m going to throw in the frozen cannoli. I had wanted to try this last year. It’s a cannoli shell filled with soft serve vanilla, chocolate or swirl ice cream. I got vanilla. The soft serve isn’t the best quality, so I would opt for a real cannoli over this.
I want to apologize for advertising the International Food Truck and Beer Festival on my blog. I have the utmost integrity and want my guests to trust and value my opinion on food and food events. I bought a ticket to this event through iadventure.com for $36 ahead of time. When I arrived at the event, I saw that the food truck festival was an OPEN event, OPEN to the public, no need for a ticket at all to enter. I thought my ticket included six vouchers to the food truck festival. I was told it included two ticket vouchers that could be used for beer, water or food at one booth (choice of sloppy joe, hot dog or taco bowl)–not food from the food trucks. You were able to buy vouchers there for beer and water. You could buy food separately at each food truck. I see absolutely NO value in the $36 I paid, as without a ticket, you could enter the festival. I thought I was getting $36 worth of vouchers for the food trucks. When I got there, they told me that there were different tickets with different names like International and Five Oceans. International was $36 and Five Oceans was $40 and with the Five Oceans, you get six food vouchers to the sorry food booth with sloppy joes, hot dogs and taco bowls, none of which looked appetizing. (Also, if you chose the taco bowl, you could either get lettuce or rice, not both. ) I used my tickets on bottles of water. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend buying a ticket to this event. If you want to visit the food trucks at South Street Seaport, you can do so for free without a ticket and purchase what you want individually from each truck.
Bastille Day cookies from Bel Ami Cafe
I took a walk on E. 60th Street for NYC’s Bastille Day festival. This is one of the most congested street festivals I’ve been to in the city, but worth going to for the Francophile. Rizzoli books had a stand with French books. There were French cards and postcards, French-speaking health professionals, tourism booths on France and Quebec, French grocery items, French music, and of course, French food like macarons, croissants, tarts and caneles, like these by Celine.