The Most Popular Labor Day Event That You May Not Know About!

If you live in Brooklyn or nearby, you’ve probably heard about the West Indian Labor Day Parade. The parade begins on Labor Day Monday at daybreak and is a tremendous event that’s been held for 50 years (2017 marks its 50th year!) There are about 1-2 million visitors to this event and it’s colorful, fun and filled with delicious smells of Caribbean foods!

 West Indian labor day parade participant

West Indian labor day parade participant

A Bit of History

The parade in its earliest form started in the 1930’s and was originally held indoors at large ballrooms of well-known hotels. The parade was a meant to a celebration before the beginning of Lent and was held in February. But since the very nature of the parade called for celebrating in costumes and dancing to Caribbean rhythms, having the event indoors was quite confining and not really workable.

 

Since Brooklyn is the heart of Caribbean-American culture, the obvious choice was to take it to the streets of Brooklyn, and the West Indian parade is synonymous with the street where it takes place, Eastern Parkway.

 Brown stew chicken

Brown stew chicken

 Escovitch Fish

Escovitch Fish

 Curry Chicken Roti

Curry Chicken Roti

Caribbean food is one of my very favorite cuisines, and I’m a sucker for oxtails, brown stew chicken and rice and peas. Curry chicken, curry goat, roti, and escovitch fish, sigh….. It’s all heavenly to me. One of the draws for the millions who visit the parade is all the good eats that can be found at their fingertips! 

 

The most widely-available food on Eastern Parkway is jerk chicken, and you can smell the smoky flavors for blocks. Have you ever tried roti? The dish has East Indian roots and refers to a non-leavened bread similar to naan that is wrapped around a mouth-watering curry of chicken, shrimp, beef, goat or conch. It’s flaky and savory and utterly delicious.

 

Patties for Everyone!

 Jamaican Beef Patties

Jamaican Beef Patties

Many people know about Jamaican beef patties. These iconic snacks are quick and tasty and satisfy a craving. Especially in my family! Why shouldn’t vegetarians also have the chance to eat these gorgeous patties?

Here’s a recipe for Jamaican lentil patties, which I recommend pairing with ripe plantains fried in coconut oil and drinking it with Jamaican ginger juice, which I’ve been enjoying for years in the West African restaurants in Manhattan!

What are your Labor Day plans? We are going to get a certain second graders' hair done for her new school 'do!