I first visited this spot nearly two years ago for a breakfast of fava beans and Sudanese shakshouka eggs. Among the unexpected things I found: black lacquered tabletops with images of chile peppers; the way owner Mekki Idris stops at every table to make sure you're enjoying your food; the warm injera bread similar to that served in Denver's many Ethiopian restaurants. All of this comes together to turn the unfamiliar, uncommon experience of a Sudanese restaurant into something familiar and comfortable.
Idris has owned the Sudan Cafe for nearly six years and says that business has steadily grown; he's been able to build his menu from one small laminated card to a multi-page roster of offerings from his home country. I wanted something that came with the housemade injera, so the woman at the counter suggested molokhia, a stew made with jute leaves that thickens the stock, adds a dark green tint and lends a bitter, vegetal flavor not unlike spinach or mild kale.
While molokhia isn't the most beautiful dish (then again, neither is Colorado green chile), it's warm and filling and goes well with the dark-tan injera, which is as spongy and delicious as its Ethiopian counterpart, if a little less sour. A side of freshmade hot sauce perks up the dish to green-chile level.
Would any of this be possible if our federal government's current travel and refugee restrictions were the norm rather than a capricious executive order that's on hold for the moment, thanks to a decision by a federal appellate court? National security is an important issue, but at a certain point, fear becomes the prevailing emotion and we forget that America is a land of refugees, of those seeking a new life without persecution, famine or strife. People from countries like Sudan, currently listed in Trump's travel ban, leave their homes and friends because of a promise of something better here, even if it's something as simple as baking bread and serving coffee in peace. The fact that we can walk into an Aurora storefront and be greeted with a friendly smile and the aroma of good food is something to celebrate, not something to fear.