I could feel it this morning, the arrival of spring, with the warmth in the air, the sounds of the birds, the sunrise that streaked red and pink across the sky. Even with a mild winter like the one we’ve just had, the spring equinox feels like a definite change in the weather.
On Saturday, my partner Mick and I celebrated spring’s arrival at our favorite Afghani restaurant, Khyber Pass Cafe, in St. Paul. The restaurant had a special Persian menu for the occasion. We began with kadu borani, a braised butternut squash dish topped with yogurt. That was followed by kabuli pilau, chicken chunks nestled beneath warmly-spiced basmati rice and topped with raisins and julienned carrots. Dessert was a traditional dish of fruits and nuts in syrup, a dish not normally on the menu and for which I cannot remember the name. A bottle of wine accompanied the meal (a nice tempranillo) and we were treated to some traditional live Persian music. It was one of the best meals I’ve had recently, and the owners of the restaurant were the epitome of graciousness to an absolutely packed place. We noticed a lot of our fellow diners also feasted on the special menu in honor of spring. One of the owners, Emel Sherzad, stopped by our table a few times to ask how we were doing and, like other visits to this restaurant, we were struck by his kindness when he spoke to us. This is not a man who asks how your are because it’s expected; he asks because he really cares and the people who come to his restaurant can feel that.
This is a place where wonderful food and joy and generosity mingle.
When we finished our meal, we slowly walked back to our car in the warmish evening. Next door to the Kyber Pass Cafe is Dunn Bros Coffee. On the bench outside there was a guy with a sweet female Bernese mountain dog who wanted nothing more than to be petted by everyone who walked by. And so we stopped, scratched her ears, looked into her big brown eyes, listened to her owner talk about how many puppies she’s had and how she is a great mom. The guy was so happy sitting there with his dog and a cup of coffee; we were so happy to stop and talk.
Spring brings that out in people around here.
And so I wish you happy spring. May you get to celebrate with new foods, have conversations with people you don’t know, see how much joy there could be in a world where people are kind no matter who comes across their path. It’ll make hugging the people you love just that much better, too.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com