Khūrākī returns in March to share stories and food by Afghan refugees | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Khūrākī returns in March to share stories and food by Afghan refugees

Khūrākī returns in March to share stories and food by Afghan refugees
Photo: Molly Rice
Khūrākī, a hybrid performance and food event that sold out several shows when it debuted last spring, will be returning on run March 11-14 at the Capital Cathedral in Millvale. The shows feature actors portraying the real stories of a group of Afghan women refugees, make the food served during the show. This iteration of Khūrākī coincides with the launch of Zafaron Afghan Cuisine, a cooperatively owned and operated catering business run by Afghan women.

Khūrākī, which gets its name from the word for "meal" in Dari, stemmed from writer Molly Rice's artist residency with the Pittsburgh Office of Public Art. She began observing and working with Afghan refugee women through the Northern Area Multi-Service Center in Sharpsburg, before the organization had to shut down its Refugee Resettlement program in 2018. Directed by Rusty Thelin, and produced by Thelin and Rice's production company Real/Time Interventions, the show "seeks to disrupt American notions of Afghanistan as a place that represents only violence and war, emphasizing the beauty of Afghan culture, music, landscapes, and food."

The March shows will focus on traditions around the Afghan New Year celebration Nauruz (March 21) and feature "theatrical portraits" of the Afghan women, performed by local actors who are chosen by the women themselves.

The launch of Zafaron Afghan cuisine will make it one in a small percentage of U.S. businesses that are worker-owned. In creating the business, the women received support from Rice and the Office of Public Art, as well as community-oriented restaurant Sprezzatura, kitchen share program La Dorita, the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship, and the Pittsburgh Chamber of Cooperatives.

"These women and immigrants like them are breathing life into the Dream with every success they achieve here, with every step they make toward flourishing, with every space they make for themselves to share their culture and stories," said Rice in a press release. "By being in the room, you become part of that Dream
too. That’s how we make a country together. And their food is delicious.”

Tickets starting at $50, with discounts for refugees, veterans, students, and artists, are available here.

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