|In the shiny new Times Square, food is entertainment and spacemen and wrestlers serve bland sandwiches with cute names. Walk a couple of blocks west, though, and you're in another world full of coils of sausage, tubs of thick Greek yogurt, bins of spices, stacks of vegetables, fresh goat meat and elegant cakes. All this, and not a Disney character in sightfor, despite its colonization by hipster homesteaders, Hell's Kitchen still has a true marketplace at its heart.
Hidden from the tourist trade on Broadway, Ninth Avenue between 36th and 46th Streets is crammed with small groceries and specialty stores that exist to serve their communities, whether they consist of workers from down the block or compatriots from back home. And "back home" can be anywhere from Athens to Zamboangathis is probably the most ethnically diverse commercial strip in Manhattan. On May 20 and 21, these vendors will take to the street for the annual Ninth Avenue Food Festival, one of the most delicious parties in the city. But you don't have to wait till then. Give your eyes a rest from the bright lights of Broadway, and your stomach will thank you.