July 20, 2008
It was a beautiful day, if you can stand temps in the 90's. Humidity levels of 29 to 39 are still unbelievable to this body of mine, so acclimated to the swampy heat of the deep Alabama South. I started my pilgrimage early (too early;I left the apartment at noon looking for an event that didn't start until 7 P.M.), and ended up at my destination twice. The first time it was just being set up.
The morning trip just about did me in, even without humidity. It was so hot I thought I'd die, dragging along the sidewalks looking for a spot of shade to cross into as I made my way across town toward the beautiful St. Ann's church which was to be having its annual party. I made the mistake of calling it a "festival" and was quickly corrected by a native (or B & R as they call themselves here). It's a feast, said she, don't call it a festival. Gotcha.
The biggest gotcha was that I misunderstood the time and had to make a second trip as evening came.
The warm night breezes wafted the fragrance of food my way as I walked toward the feast. Sausages, pasta in tomato sauce, and zeppoli being deep fried wove together in a blanket for the nose. The sounds of a crowd, and a voice on the steps of the church was miked out for the crowds sitting there with plates of food, sitting in couples, visiting, and half-listening to the message of doing God's work in today's world.
The sun set as the lights went up on the little stage across from the church. People visited and stood in line for zeppoli. Families and couples and a few strays like me meandered through the booths, finding the odd Jimmy Roselli CD in a rack. (I confess it was Jerry Vale's voice being piped in the air and that for a minute I thought I was listening to Roselli.)
Somebody was selling spinakopita and I almost talked myself into buying one with the rationalization that "at least it has spinach in it; it's good for you." I decided instead to wait in the line ("on line," they say here) for a small paper bag of zeppoli -- three for $2, can't beat that price -- just to get in the spirit of the event.
I came home convinced I had walked off the calories by having walked there and back twice in the same day that I ate the zeppolis. And felt comparatively virtuous because I saved one for my coffee this morning.
St. Ann's Day is next weekend, where they'll have a Mass, a procession, and more food.