I am double fisting a black-eyed pea seasoned with ground dried shrimp and onions concoction that to the untrained eye would seem like a run of the mill fritter. These fritters, however, are split down the middle and filled with spicy shrimp, onion filling, and a salad mixture made out of green and red tomatoes. Each bite encompasses an explosion of flavor that is commonly known on the streets of Bahia and Lagos. Cooking this treat in palm oil gives it an incredible zest of old world tradition, while the hot peppers added thereafter ensure that anyone thinking of delving into such a feat would be best served carrying around a couple bottles of Luso water. It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon on Ferry Street, and although the Acaraje I am enjoying aren’t a panacea to the ills of our everyday, I could care less for the worries of mortgages and bills. It is the Ironbound’s yearly Brazilian Independence Day Festival that befittingly runs all weekend long, and Mr. Saturday is savoring the taste of free living.
This year’s festival ran along Ferry Street, commencing at the five corners and ending at the parking lot of Pathmark Supermarket. The streets were filled with people totting cups filled to the brim of Caipirinha and/or Sangria. Stages set in the parking lot across the street from Sol Mar and on the five corners itself presented wonderfully eclectic mixes of live music ranging from samba, pagode, and funk. In between the live performances, the crowds were kept dancing away to house tracks seamlessly interwoven in mixtures of pure ecstasy from the areas best, including two female standout deep dish plate deliverers; Maria Dark and Zara Amaral.
There was a small carnival set up for children, various food vendors, and plenty of drinking stations for the fermented libation seekers.
After several hours of eating the aforementioned Acaraje, Mr. Saturday set off from the festivities. The crowd danced itself into a frenzy that brought about thunderstorm, an inadvertent rain dance I suppose. It was the huge crowds that gave us all hope that the Portuguese Feast follows suit next year, and brings back the celebration on Ferry Street.