When you're in Manhattan during the third weekend in May, make sure to head over to my neighborhood - Hell's Kitchen - where the annual International Food Festival, a mouth-watering and stomach-bursting bacchanalia of foods takes place. For two whole days, devoting the entire weekend, Hell's Kitchen erupts into a kaleidoscope of literally senses-altering experience of raw and manic non-stop taking and gorging of foods from nations represented in this great city. Stall after stall of ethnic cuisine mixed in with displays of other merchandises at flea-market prices, tempt one's resolve into endless purchases the greater part naturally directed at the myriad foods. This very sinful yet heavenly personal indulgence, bordering on sensual orgy of sort is carefully allocated over the entire stretch of 9th Avenue from West 57th Street all the way down to West 38th Street. This food orgy starts up by clear day's unraveling literally at breakfast time around 9AM lasting into 7PM. If you want at first to do just an easy unrestricted stroll for an overview of things, start early around 9AM. But if you like your day's delectition at maximum intensity and reward, partake the feast at the tumescent hour of lunchtime - from about 11AM - when for blocks you smell nothing but the dizzying aromas of grilling meat, smoky spices and the heady interplay of exotic condiments. By this time, entire expanse of 9th Avenue of Hell's Kitchen is wall-to-wall humanity on a voluptuous pursuit of food sampling and huge intake at cheap prices taking on a gypsy-like colossal encampment in an open country. Bring lots of small bills and change, and wear good walking shoes. If you're not much into food, come anyway for the great fun of it for perfect people-watching: each purchase, imbibement, smile and turn of the head to look at another dish, the tufts of smoke rising upwards to the tenements' roofs, the endless parade of different faces of mixed races all a radiant lust for the snapping camera to keep.
This is a wonderful event each May the weekend after Mother's Day where they close most of mid 9th Avenue for a food festival. Running from the 30s to the 50s it is such a unique chance to taste your way through the west side. All sorts of restaurants have booths there. Always a good excuse for a VT meeting in May. If you're coming for the festival let me know and I'll see what I can set up.