e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


St. Paul

Today two uneventful flights from Detroit to Chicago and Chicago to the Twin Cities--uneventful except for maybe the testy United Airlines crews. "Sit down and get away from the gate until your row is called!" And moments later: "We're already late, stay close to the gate!" And a whole lot of "Don't block traffic in the aisles, stow your bag and sit down!" Maybe it was the heat bringing out the tempers.

I'm at Macalester College in St. Paul for the Working Class Studies Association Conference. Pretty campus, though I imagine the winter must not be too pleasant here. Today is all green lawns, kids studying on blankets, and the warm sun. And the neighborhood reminds me of Fourth Ave. in Tucson--tea houses, whole food stores, tie dye, etc. An odd place for the working-class studies conference, which now travels after a dozen or so years in the fixed locale of Youngstown. Not sure if the irony (of holding a working-class studies meeting at an expensive private college) will be much discussed this week or not. At any rate, I'll try to blog some of the sessions in the coming days, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, tonight a delicious dinner at Khyber Pass Cafe, an outstanding Afghani joint down the street from the dorm where I'm staying. The highlight of the meal was a walnut-cilantro chutney, served with whole wheat flatbread. As much a "pesto" as anything, the chutney had a dash of vinegar and more than a dash of hot chilis. Just the right amount of heat. The waiter, seeing that I loved the chutney, recommended the Vegetarian Shola, a puree of mung beans and brown rice, served with yogurt and a dollop of the chutney. The shola had many of the familiar spices that I associate with the dry masalas used in Indian cooking. Kind of nutty and, again, just enough heat. I hope to get back there in the next few days.

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