Happy Friday! It’s a bit late, but I’m finally publishing last week’s weekend update, and a fabulous weekend it was, too. I caught up with old friends and met new ones, ate at old favorite restaurants and discovered new ones, and I saw both a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and a Pulitzer Prize winner speak within a 24 hour time span.
I spent the weekend in Chicago, first for a national conference for GlobeMed, a global health organization composed of chapters from fifty universities, each of which partners with a healthcare organization in the developing world to raise money for its operations. My chapter’s partner is a public health organization in Laos, and we fund their malaria education programs. At the conference, we heard talks from doctors, public health workers, and other social activists that work in the developing world. The highlight was the keynote speaker, Leymah Gbowee, a social worker and mother who mobilized the women from her Christian congregation as well as the local Muslim mosque to nonviolently protest for peace during the Liberian Civil War in 2004. She was a passionate and inspiring speaker, warm, funny, and so, so strong, emphasizing the power of individuals to go out and change the world. She’s a pretty good example of that: her group actually did stop the war. Oh, did I mention she won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize? Pretty amazing.
After the conference at Northwestern ended on Sunday, I headed downtown to meet my Spanish class to see a play, The Happiest Song Plays Last by Quiara Alegría Hudes. On the way from the L stop to the theater, I found this intriguing gem of a restaurant at the intersection of State and Lake Street. I was looking for somewhere to eat before the play, so I walked into the ever so creatively named Protein Bar and was immediately impressed.
The mark of a good restaurant, in my book, is not being able to decide what to order. This happens so infrequently when eating out at your typical chain restaurant, but here they had an entire menu section on quinoa bowls, another on burritos, and another on hearty salads–basically my food groups. The restaurant is not vegan, but has many well-noted vegan as well as gluten-free options, making it a great place to stop with a group with diverse eating preferences. For my first time visiting, I decided on the Vegan Original burrito, filled with quinoa, black beans, tofu, lettuce, vegan cheese, and salsa. I also opted for avocado, for which you do have to pay a bit extra, but it was a bit extra well spent.
Hurried snapshot in the midst of eating…not the greatest quality, but you get the picture.
The burrito was very satisfying as well as tasty, able to hold me over until I got back to campus around 9 pm that night. I also ordered a chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie called the Wrigley Peeled, one a variety of Chicago-themed drinks including the Millenium Perk (with espresso), the Red Line (strawberry banana), and the South Açai’d (pretty self-explanatory).
The original Protein Bar, as I learned from their website later, opened in 2007, and already has 7 Chicago locations, with three more in the works, and has recently expanded to a location in Washington, DC. I’m sure I’ll return to one location or another over the summer, and this is what I’m eyeing next time:
I almost got this, but decided on the quinoa burrito instead. Next time though!
Oh, and the play was wonderful. The third in a trilogy the playwright based on her cousin Elliot’s experiences in the Iraq war and as a veteran, as well as on his Puerto Rican family’s life in North Philadelphia, it swung from heartwarming to heart-wrenching to hilarious. In this installment, Elliot is filming a docu-drama on the war in Jordan in the midst of the Arab Spring while his cousin Yaz deals with love and loss back home. The characters communicate through text and video chat during the play as well, adding another modern touch. After the play, my class attended an question-and-answer session with Quiara Hudes, the playwright, along with her cousin Elliot and the actor who played him. It was an interesting dynamic, as real-life Elliot had just seen this play based on his own life for the first time, and it was fascinating to hear from all three of them.
Sadly, this weekend doesn’t look to be nearly as eventful as the last, but I am planning on finally hitting up the brand new Whole Foods that just opened in Mishawaka (the town over from South Bend), getting some ingredients, and finally doing some cooking! So stay tuned for a new recipe coming on Sunday.