We went out to dinner last night to celebrate Harvard’s commencement and specifically our friend Kueh, who got to don the billowy pinkish robe and receive his PhD. The chosen restaurant was Muqueca in Inman Square, and I was excited for an evening in my favorite neighborhood.
The streets were full of people–in the summer you really get a sense of how many people live in Cambridge, when they all come out and walk in the evenings, or sit in public parks. There were lines at Punjabi Dhaba and Christina’s Ice Cream, and I looked hopefully at that window above the All Star Sandwich Bar where someone usually runs a bubble machine in the summer. No bubbles, but I’ll check back.
While waiting outside Muqueca, we came a little too close to an intoxicated brawl between two big guys, (note: this was at 7:30pm) and then got to see the community in action. We ducked into the restaurant and one of our party mentioned to the staff that there was a fistfight outside. A petite middle-aged woman—who I think was the chef—marched right outside and started berating the men, telling them not to fight in front of her restaurant and to take themselves somewhere else (!). Given the state of things I found this a gutsy move and was eager to sample her cooking. The men ignored her and she called the police, who arrived speedily and en masse.
Peace restored, we moved on to food.
The restaurant is Brazilian, and the cuisine had some similarities to that of Portugal, not surprisingly given their shared history. A muqueca is a seafood stew served with rice, and we each received one of these heaping cast iron feasts. A strong use of coconut milk and cilantro united the dishes, many of which seemed similar to me but used different combinations of fish (mine had cod). The food was hearty and the ambiance was fun. It’s a small restaurant (More than one of us had commented, “We have a reservation for eight people? They’ll have to close the restaurant for the night.”) and sometimes you can wind up sitting quite near your neighbors (or bumping repeatedly into the metallic fish decor) but as a larger party we had ample space.
Here’s to summer, to the graduates, and to Muqueca!