Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, & Empanadas Festival – Lower East Side, Manhattan

Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, & Empanadas Festival – Lower East Side, Manhattan – June 19, 2016

The Museum at Eldridge Street hosted its annual Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, & Empanadas Festival to celebrate the three predominant cultures of Manhattan’s Lower East Side: Chinese, Jewish, and Puerto Rican.

“Celebrate the Jewish, Chinese and Puerto Rican communities of the Museum’s Lower East Side/Chinatown neighborhood at the Museum’s free annual block party.” (http://www.eldridgestreet.org/event/egg-rolls-egg-creams-and-empanadas-festival/, 2016)

The festival had tables with activities for children and adults, demonstrations of many things from the three cultures, and a few food items from them.

The tables, performances, and demonstrations were great! We heard klezmer music (pronounced klehz-mehr, “is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe. Played by professional musicians called klezmorim (pronounced klehz-mohr-eem), the genre originally consisted largely of dance tunes and instrumental display pieces for weddings and other celebrations. In the United States the genre evolved considerably as Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, who arrived between 1880 and 1924, met and assimilated American jazz.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klezmer, 2016) and a traditional Chinese band. We saw Puerto Rican vejigante (pronounced veh-hee-gahn-tay) masks and mundillo (pronounced moon-dee-yoh, traditional Puerto Rican lace made using bobbins) being made. It was great to see and learn so many things!

Tables & Demonstrations (Clockwise from Top Left): Chinese folded paper sculptures showing table filled with various sculptures made with folded paper and people standing and looking at sculptures, Challah making table with people rolling out and braiding dough into traditional Jewish challah bread, and Vejigante making - man at table sitting and using paper mache technique to make a traditional Puerto Rican vejigante with many horns
Tables & Demonstrations (Clockwise from Top Left): Chinese folded paper sculptures, Challah making, and Vejigante making

Video Description: Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, & Empanadas Festival: Four clips 1) Man using a papier mache technique to make a traditional Puerto Rican vejigante (pronounced veh-hee-gahn-tay) mask with many horns, 2) Klezmer (pronounced klehz-mehr) band marching down the street, 3) Artisan making mundillo (pronounced moon-dee-yoh, traditional Puerto Rican lace made using bobbins), and 4) traditional Chinese music behind played inside main sanctuary at the Museum at Eldridge Street

There were several tables serving food. One served Greek-Jewish desserts: baklava (pronounced bah-klah-vah, “a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baklava, 2016) and cookies. The baklava, while sweet, was very dense, heavy, and too chewy. The cookies were covered in sweet powdered sugar and were deliciously crumbly and filled with crunchy walnuts. I enjoyed these a lot.

We arrived just before noon when the festival opened. We immediately went to one of the four tables serving egg rolls, egg creams (a Jewish beverage blending seltzer, milk, and chocolate syrup), and empanadas (pronounced em-pahn-a-dahs, “a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries in Latin Europe, Latin America, the Southwestern United States, and parts of Southeast Asia. The name comes from the Galician, Portuguese, and Spanish verb empanar (pronounced em-pahn-ahr), meaning to wrap or coat in bread.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empanada, 2016). The food was not ready, so we explored the other tables for about 15 minutes and returned. Upon our return, only one of the four tables was serving food, and the line was obscenely long. We were so hungry, having planned to eat lunch at the festival, that we went elsewhere for lunch and then came back. This was very disappointing, and the lines stayed way too long for the few hours we were there. Had they been better prepared, we could have tried the titular food.

Food (Clockwise from Top Left): one triangular piece of Baklava in open, clear, plastic, clamshell box, three round Greek-Jewish cookies covered in powdered sugar in an open, clear, plastic, clamshell box, and Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, & Empanadas booth showing blue tablecloth on table with a sign charging $6 for the three item combo
Food (Clockwise from Top Left): Baklava, Greek-Jewish cookies, and Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, & Empanadas booth

Accessibility Rating for Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, & Empanadas Festival

I used my wheelchair to visit Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, & Empanadas Festival.

  • Entryway – 5: The street fair itself was easy accessed. The only issue was potholes in the road, but this is out of the museum’s control. The museum has a dedicated accessible entrance next to the main entrance stairs. The entrance was smooth through one wide door.
  • Bathroom (Men’s) – 3: The brightly lit bathroom has two grab bars around the toilet. I was able to make a 180º turn with some difficulty while in the accessible stall while in my wheelchair. I was unable to fit underneath the sink, which has a standard height faucet and standard length handles. It was difficult to get close to the sink, even when I turned my wheelchair so the wheels were parallel to the counter.
  • Walkways/Space – 4: The outdoor street festival is fully accessible. The interior of the museum has an elevator. Due to the crowds and the narrow spaces that are a result of this being a preserved synagogue built in 1887, getting around in the wheelchair was challenging. The interior space is brightly lit throughout, and due to the nature of the event there was a good deal of loud music and talking.

Video Description: Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, & Empanadas Festival: Street fair showing tables covered by white tents for shade and people walking up and down the street from table to table. Then, the video transitions to the synagogue/museum’s interior showing large, round, turquoise stained glass window in the main sanctuary and people walking around the pews and aisles and in the overhead balcony.

Exterior & Interior (Clockwise from Top Left): Museum/Synagogue Facade showing tan colored walls with round stained glass windows, Festival outdoors on Eldridge Street showing tents with tables and people visiting the tables, Detail of Restored Stained Glass Window in Main Sanctuary turquoise in color and circular with gold stars embedded in it, and Main Sanctuary showing many electric chandeliers and large, circular, turquoise stained glass window above
Exterior & Interior (Clockwise from Top Left): Museum/Synagogue Facade, Festival outdoors on Eldridge Street, Detail of Restored Stained Glass Window in Main Sanctuary, and Main Sanctuary
  • Staff – 3: We had one interaction with the museum’s Executive Director where she spoke directly to my husband to direct me to the bathroom. She realized after starting to speak to him that she should speak directly to me, and then, she did just that. Beyond that, I did not get asked if there was any way they could help me.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


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