Ethiopian Culture: Three Facets – A Travel Blog

by | July 20, 2018 |

Title image: Sunset over Lalibela and a beautiful Ethiopian culture.

Our visit to Ethiopia was wonderful from all points of view: well organized by our excellent guide, Elias Alemayehu, visually stunning and vastly informative. Three aspects of Ethiopian culture are striking:

Ethiopian Culture: The Food

I like Ethiopian food because it is rich in diverse vegetables. Others like it because it is rich in diverse meat.

Here’s the inside of a typical restaurant. We’re at Dashen Terera in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian culture

You start by washing your hands, very correct.

Ethiopian culture

Phillip washing up

The food is served family style. No one orders for him or herself on separate plates, although you may ask for different things.

Ethiopian cultura

The food is very attractively presented, so colorful and always on top of spongey injira bread.

Here’s another meal we had. All consistently delicious.Ethiopian culture

Honey wine comes in a very particularly shaped bottle. You’re supposed to drink using only two fingers.

Ethiopian culture

I’m cheating by holding the bottom of the bottle with my other hand

Ethiopian Culture: Daily Life

Making Ingira

While we were visiting Lalibela Elias had us stop at outside town at the home of a traditional family. There we saw the injira-making process, since this probiotic, iron-rich bread is fundamental to Ethiopian cuisine.

You start with a sorghum grain called tef:

Ethiopian culture

Your grind it up and make batter which you let ferment over a couple of days and store in a gourd:

Ethiopian culture

Then you pour the batter in a circular pattern onto a hot plate over burning coals:

Ethiopian culture

Ethiopian culture

Here are some results:

Ethiopian culture

The top one is the one I poured. You see that it is missing its center. That’s because I poured out too much in my first passes around the plate. Amateur!

The daughter helped:

Ethiopian culture

We are served:

Ethiopian culture

The family has a house on one side of the road:

Ethiopian culture

with a shed for animals

Ethiopian culture

And a couple more houses on the other side of the road.

Ethiopian culture

The Coffee Ceremony

We also experienced this part of daily life in Lalibela.

You start with the unroasted beans:

Ethiopian culture

Then you roast them:

Ethiopian culture

When the beans are properly roasted you can grind them:

Ethiopian culture

While the coffee is brewing you make popcorn for your guests to eat

Ethiopian culture

Popcorn? Popcorn! Now I’m totally into this

Here we go:

Ethiopian culture

By the way that’s frankincense burning on the plate in front of the table

Now this is a fresh, smooth cup of Ethiopian coffee with a sprig of parsley:

Ethiopian culture

No, the Ethiopians are not sloppy pourers. I noticed that coffee is consistently served with some in the dish. It’s probably like the way Japanese serve sake – you pour until the glass overflows, a sign of generosity

When we returned to Addis I understood the coffee ceremony display in the hotel lobby:

Ethiopian culture

Ethiopian Culture: Singing and Dancing
Ethiopian culture

Ge’ez script on the sign! The topmost graphs spell: da-she-n (the name of a mountain) then below there is: te-ra-ra. You can see the T clearly, then the next two graphs are the same, namely [ra]

On of first night in Addis we went to Dashen Terera, a traditional restaurant where there’s great food, as I’ve shown you above, and plenty of singing and dancing:

Ethiopian culture

Ethiopian culture

Ethiopian culture

Ethiopian culture

On our last night in Addis we were taken to this – mostly tourist – spot, very well done, and saw a version of this:

Finally, my favorite performer:

Ethiopian culture

Love the green hair pick. It’s a good look

See: All Africa Blogs


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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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