A dazzling bill of fare, prepared and served primarily by vendors who rarely do business except on special occasions, is a highlight of the annual West Indian Day Parade. Each Labor Day, the parade and its accompanying street-food bonanza blanket some two miles of Eastern Pkwy., in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
The night before, from Sunday until the wee hours of Monday, an unofficial pre-parade event occupies several blocks of Utica Ave. just south of Eastern Pkwy., at the eastern end of the parade route. It's an early opportunity to procure a flag, or hat, or bandana, or what-have-you in the national colors of a dozen Caribbean nations. It's also an early opportunity to chow down on jerk chicken (above), grilled corn, bags of guineps and sliced mangos, a vinegary serving of cow-foot souse (below), and various gaily colored snow cones and fruit drinks, some of them not entirely street legal. The more exotic items are available only on the day of the parade, but this evening event is less sweltering and much less crowded, too.
Eve of the West Indian Day Parade
Vicinity of Utica Ave. and Eastern Pkwy., Crown Heights, Brooklyn
(The 2015 festivities took place on September 6-7)