February 18, 2008

I've never been to Africa, much less Ethiopia, but Ethiopian cuisine is one of my favorites. The only thing that many Americans only know about Ethiopia, is that it had terrible famine in the 1980s, when more 1 million people starved. Sadly, Ethiopia has been described as “chronically food insecure” by world hunger experts. Despite it's food shortages, Ethiopia has one of the world's oldest and richest culinary traditions. Served family style, on a huge sour-dough pancake-like bread called Injera, diners in Ethiopian restaurants typically eat with their hands scooping up bits of 5-10 different preparations with the injera. I love the mix of spiced stews and curries, featuring both meat and wonderful vegetarian dishes. Another interesting part of the dining experience is Tej, which is a flavored honey wine, that can be either sweet or dry.

America has several Ethiopian communities that feature excellent restaurants, which also tend to be a great value. In Washington, D.C., there's an enclave in the Adams-Morgan district and Los Angeles has it's own "Little Ethiopia." The Fillmore district in San Francisco has a couple of nice places, including a personal favorite, Rasselas, which is also a Jazz club.

Beyond the food, I find the people, culture and history of Northeast Africa very interesting; though admittedly my exposure has been limited. Despite the difficulties in traveling there, some day I'm going to visit Ethiopia and possibly it's embattled neighbor Eritrea. Here's my vlog post from the restaurant Merkato:

For more, check out this post on the Fat Free Vegan blog. Here's a good resource for finding a restaurant near you: And finally, "The Watch Woman" has a number of good recipes.



Nina's picture

I liked the tour of the Ethiopian food but wanted to know exactly what each of the items on the large platter were. Could you give more detail so I know what to expect. Thanks.

bdorfman's picture

The menu had pretty good descriptions here:

We had #12, #13, and #29.


Hanan Jalaliddeen's picture

Haha I loveee this! Especially the part where you can eat with your hands scooping!
Almost all African foods are like this!