Sunday, October 02, 2005

Viva Italia!

Italian Street Festival.JPG The sense, last night at the Richmond Italian Street Festival, was of a gauntlet thrown down, of an initiation of a new rivalry between ethnic food festivals: the Italian-Americans of Richmond seemed to be directly challenging the supremacy of the Greek Festival and its heretofore unthreatened preeminence in the cycle of outdoor Richmond events. Of course, in terms of variety and organization, the Greek Festival wins hands down, but then, they've been putting on their event for what? Forever? They've had practice (and a drive-through too). The nascent Italian Festival is still fumbling with the inevitable missteps and vision lapses any inaugural event entails. The line for wine stretched far, far down the block, the Peroni ran out at the beer truck, and at times I despaired that my children would remain content to watch passersby as I wanly stifled my hunger pangs, and waited out all of the people ahead of me, just to snatch a hot, gooey rice ball* from the stand that at that moment had the relatively shortest line. But if you're not willing to endure long lines and crowds at a Richmond festival, you're better off just staying at home and ordering a pizza from Mary Angela's. You have no business mixing it up on the street. Although the entertainment was on the thin side and the children's activity section virtually non-existent, I have hope that this festival will blossom and grow over the coming years. I can imagine days and evenings filled with the pungent scent of garlic and performers from the Virginia Opera wandering through the crowds in costume, singing Verdi. I can see more wine booths (separate the red from the white maybe?) and more culinary variety (where was the participation from high-end Italian cuisine, like Amici and La Grotta ?) offered in a more centralized fashion. I'd like to see street musicians (accordions, anyone?) and magicians and most of all, even more of Richmond flocking to the beautiful, restored ambiance of Church Hill to eat some of the best food this town has to offer. *A ball of cooked aborio rice and tomatoes encircling a hunk of fresh mozzarella, lightly breaded and deep-fried, then smothered in marinara and parmesan. Delicious! And I'd never had one before either. Viva Italia.JPG technorati tags:, ,


Blogger Brandon said...

Someone mentioned to me that there were musicians, dancers, etc. at the Italian Festival. I guess I need to be a little clearer: I want to see more of this kind of thing and I want to see the entertainment moving throughout the crowd, mingling with the spectators, instead of relegated to one small section of the festival. Now that's something the Greek Festival doesn't have, not by a long shot. Jettison the stuffiness and put the street back into street festival.

October 03, 2005 12:49 PM  
Blogger drbiggles said...

Dang, however fleeting, there was a moment there were I thought there was hope for my Richmond. Then, the VA showed up and ... DOH !!! Nope, no hope. Rats. I don't think the Richmond out here would have done any better, at least you had a festival to go to!

October 04, 2005 11:55 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Hey Dr. Biggles--

Richmond, Virginia is chock full of festivals, every weekend, overlapping each other it seems, especially in the fall. I can't even go to them all. I find it hard to believe that exciting northern California isn't brimming with even more exotic events than boring, old conservative Virginia.

October 05, 2005 12:17 PM  
Blogger drbiggles said...

I suppose there are some faires, festivals and related. The faires are mostly frequented by gang members. There are metal detectors just to get in! The smaller festivals don't get enough media, so we don't hear about them until they've past. AND, the traffic can get so bad it's worse than commuting during the week. So, it's dangerous, hard to get to even when we do hear about them.
I feel like Eeyore, "It'll never work."


October 05, 2005 5:26 PM  

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