It’s been 25 years since I first stepped onto African soil. I was a wide-eyed study-abroad student fortunate enough to be able to travel the globe for 100 days. Every country I visited, across three continents, brought indelible experiences that changed my worldview. Let’s be honest, though: The food was as mind-blowing as anything else.

This was especially true in both South Africa and Kenya, because while I tried new-to-me dishes in India and Vietnam and Japan, those cuisines were relatively familiar to my American palate. But African foods hadn’t—and still haven’t—been as widely exported to the United States as others, which is what made digging into braai (South African barbecue), bobotie (a minced-meat casserole), ugali (cornmeal mush), and irio (mashed potatoes with corn, peas, and greens) so revelatory for me.

In this month’s “Expanding The Palate,” associate food editor Ethan Pan may lead you to a similar epiphany—that is, if you aren’t already familiar with metro Denver’s long-standing African food scene. “Restaurants have come and gone over the decades,” Pan says, “but if you know to look for them, you can find local eateries that specialize in Ethiopian, Ghanaian, Moroccan, South African, Kenyan, Senegalese, and Sudanese cuisines, among others. Many, if not most, are run by immigrants, and all of them offer something delicious.”

I can attest that Pan is right. The meals I’ve had at Ras Kassa’s Ethiopian Restaurant, at Cafe Paprika, at Le French, and at several eateries that have since closed have always served flavors that take me back to my first experiences in Africa. I hope they’ll be memorable for you, too.

Illustration by Arthur Mount

Robert Sanchez
Senior Staff Writer

Senior staff writer Robert Sanchez might kindly be described as baseball-obsessed: He has tens of thousands of baseball cards in his collection, has played in fantasy leagues for the past 30 years, and once was the Little League teammate of Hall of Famer Roy Halladay. So when a parent at one of his daughter’s swim meets mentioned that she was the first general manager of a professional women’s baseball team called the Colorado Silver Bullets three decades ago, Sanchez was determined to chase down the story. Over the past several months, he reached out to former players, who in turn connected him with even more sources for “The Girls Of Summer.” “For a baseball fan like myself, that was heaven,” Sanchez says. He heard countless unforgettable anecdotes, not all of which he was able to include. For instance, one former player has since been diagnosed with cancer and underwent a mastectomy; her doctor recommended she limit movement, but she was determined to throw batting practice to her son’s team the week after her procedure. Sanchez’s biggest takeaway from his reporting? “Baseball is for everyone. That, and these are some badass women,” he says. Sanchez also has a request for 5280’s readers: If you have a Colorado Silver Bullets hat from 1994, he’d like to buy it and wear it with pride.