Travel Tuesday: Ethiopia

One of Miss Ava’s friends, Tilda, is from Ethiopia. While she’s not exactly talking yet (she turned one in December), her parents are talking and everything they’ve said about Ethiopia makes me hungry.

They adopted Tilda last year and spent some time in the country getting to know the culture and, of course, the food. Here’s the summary: if you’re into spices, you’re in luck. They brought back bags of berberé seasoning – so much, in fact, that they didn’t think twice about giving me an entire cup of their precious stash. Almost everything is spiced with berberé seasoning [Recipe], especially the standard wat (stew) made from lamb [Recipe], chicken, lentils, or beans. Be sure to enjoy Wat with Injera [Recipe], teff pancakes that are used to scoop up the food instead of silverware.

Now, for something that Tilda’s parents did not tell me – I got this little nugget from Andrew Zimmern. In his Ethiopian episode he shares that if you’re really lucky Ethiopians will offer you raw meat. Raw meat is a delicacy – the fresher it is, the greater the honor. I watched him chow down on beef and camel, both dipped into a mixture of berberé and lemon juice. Amazing.

A totally different honor, and much more up my alley, is the Ethiopian coffee ceremony [Recipe]. This ritual uses all the senses. Green coffee beans are roasted until brown and fragrant, then ground into an intoxicating blend that is passed around so that visitors might enjoy the aroma. The resulting grounds are brewed strong and sweet and are usually enjoyed with plain popcorn [Recipe] or other snacks.

So, let’s lift our eyes to Ethiopia, the so called “roof of Africa” (because most of the country is at an elevation of 5,000-13,000 feet), and give a few cheers of thanks.

Photos: Jialiang Gao, Giustino, and CIA World Factbook.


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