Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Khyber Pass, St. Patrick's Day
No green beer or green hair to write about today. My grandmother was big into St. Patrick's day, she was fiercely proud of being Irish and a red head. She amazed me with her agility doing the jig and she kept the companies that made four leaf clover and leprechaun stickers in business. Irish heritage and surviving Minnesota winter are both reasons enough to celebrate in outrageous jubilation. I'm of Irish descent, I live in St. Paul and my favorite color is green but this weekend I attended the Women's International Day where the keynote speakers were from Afghanistan and Northern Ireland, and I'm allowing myself to linger on what unites us and what divides us around the world. Afghanistan and Ireland are places with ancient spiritual connections to Earth, and countries which continue to know the pain of war. Who am I, where do I come from and where do I belong? Who are my people?
Okay, so what does this have to do with my "third place" idea? Well, several of my relatives were from Ireland, but I've never been there. I never crave Irish food, but I love Afghan food, a blend of Indian, Persian, Turkish, Middle-Eastern, Greek, Chinese and Central Asian food traditions. Thankfully on this beautiful relatively balmy evening my family could walk over to our neighborhood restaurant, the Khyber Pass, and eat a delicious meal prepared without any evidence of green food coloring! We started off with two servings of hummus. If allowed to my son would survive on corn chips, pizza and ice cream, but he devours the chicken curry. My husband loves the yogurt drink which is a refreshing blend of plain yogurt, mint, and cucumber. I had the combination platter, great for those of us who want to sample lots of tastes. I also had the Shiraz wine from Australia. The decor is warm and intimate, with gorgeous Afghan dresses and photographs along the walls. My family had to cut out before dessert but I stayed to savor my wine and solitude. I had a creamy rice pudding with raisins and cardamon and some perfect Chai tea.
My daughter is best friends with the daughter of the owners of Khyber Pass. Typical teenagers they giggle and stay up late talking about boys and fashion. They say "I love you" when they end their phone conversations. Fortunately they attend a Quaker school together, they have been raised in an environment of trust where the values of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community and Equality (SPICE) are nurtured and modeled. Our daughters have a foundation of friendship, they unite us and the world.
The Persian New Year begins this month, with the start of the Zoroastrian calendar, Aries or April. The Khyber Pass is celebrating Nau-rouz (New Day) with a special Persian menu and live music on March 20, 21 and March 27 and 28th. Renew your spirit with some exotic food, lively music and new friendships. See you there!