In the heart of downtown Akron….
…you can find Lock 3.
This prime piece of property was turned into a park in 2003 and now hosts…
.…the Italian American Council Festival..
This festival makes use of what Lock 3 Park offers, including….
…a nice stage…
…an area for some booths (Hi Julia!)…
…and the neighboring S. Main Street for even more booths and two stages.
Located at each end of the food vendor line….
…one stage was being used for music…
…while the other had a Morra competition in progress.
For those unfamiliar with Morra, it’s a two player Italian game where both opponents simultaneously throw out one hand with zero to five extended fingers (I’m not sure what happens if you’re missing some digits). As they throw out their hands, they try to yell out the sum of both hands. The person who correctly guesses the sum of both hands gets a point..
I taught Julia how to play a short time before this festival and we thought about entering, but you needed a team of five.
So, instead, we watched as the players taunted each other by screaming out Italian numbers as their hands shot out and up.
Check out that intense Morra action!
The festival also had other distractions, including….
…and happy street entertainment.
Within the crevices of all this fun was a heaping pile of food…probably the real reason people come to Italian festivals..
Greek, Polish, Mexican and American all represented.
They even had Italian food…
…or should I say Italian American?
Honestly, I’m not sure what this is.
Jokes aside, the festival consisted mostly of Italian American fare: pizza, fried pizza (fried flat bread with sugar), pasta, pasta-filled bread bowl….
…carb stuff, basically..
This made things a little difficult for me to find something to eat if I wanted to stick with the Italian theme, mostly because I could get most of those items anywhere. Fortunately, I found a booth advertising some fried smelt (something I only found at Greek fests).
But, when I asked about it, they said they didn’t have it. Apparently, they only had food listed on the small blue fliers below and the smelts weren’t listed.
So I got a decent vegetable stromboli (minus the tomato sauce) and hoped for the best when the time came for dessert..
To me, the dessert hunt was the highlight of the festival. Not because of the desserts, mind you, because they all fail to compare to Grandma’s. But I did rather enjoy talking to the women of two local Italian clubs who sold cookies at their booths. Both groups were lively, a bit pushy at times in what they wanted me to buy, but fun all the same.
Of the cookies they made, there were pizzelles and various other biscotti (cookies). I did get some pizzelles at one booth and they were OK. Could have been crispier and more flavorful, but I am comparing to Grandma’s.At the other booth, they had more pizzelles, a display case with cookies (sold individually), and containers with a cookie assortment..
If you look at the cookie assortments, there’s a long frosted, sprinkled cookie that resembles the cookie my grandmother used to make (a variation was in an S shape).
The problem was that, although the booth tried to convince me to buy the assortment, I didn’t want all those other types of cookies. I only wanted the frosted sprinkled ones.
So they pointed at the individual cookies in the case, trying to convince me that each was “just like that cookie” even though they lacked the frosting or looked like they were made with different ingredients.
They didn’t even have sprinkles.
And, just as I was about to turn my back on them, a woman came from the back with a covered bin of cookies she baked herself. She pulled off the top and a cloud of sugary perfume hit me.
“Yes, I want these!” I exclaimed. And I was happy.
At that moment, something Julia often says came to my mind. She even said it that evening, in fact, after the meatballs and corn. With her last bite, she had told me that it was “exactly what I wanted.”.
And I could have said the same at that precise moment.
Those anise-flavored biscotti were fluffy and flavorful with a nice sugary finish. They were the perfect ending to an Italian American festival and they perfectly complimented the following morning’s coffee.
To the lady who made them…