Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ethiopian Culture Lesson #1: Ethiopian Cuisine

Living in a small town, we don't get the opportunity for cultural enrichment in ways that some folks from the big city do.  So, when we visited our friends in Chicago, they decided it was the perfect time to enrich our Ethiopian experience by introducing us to Ethiopian food.  Chicago is known for their rich dining options and we were excited to take advantage of this opportunity.  We would never have this sort of option at home.

So, our last night in Chicago, we headed to Demera, a delicious Ethiopian restaurant.  A block from the door, we could already smell the rich flavors.  I will be honest and say I didn't know much about Ethiopian food, but hubs and I are both pretty adventurous when it comes to food so we decided to jump in head first and try a little of everything.

Some things to know about Ethiopian food.  First, there are no utensils.  I am a big fan of this approach.  Diners use their hands and tear off small pieces of pancake-like bread (called inerja) and then use the bread to pick up little dollops of food.  It can get a little messy but mostly it's a lot of fun, a whole lot of delicious, and much easier than learning another set of utensils (chopsticks: you and I are friends but we started as frenemies).

Five of us went on this journey together.  Since the menu was extensive and we wanted to try a little of everything, we took the advice of the manager and had a chef's sampling of dishes, family style.  I can say emphatically there wasn't anything on the plate I didn't enjoy.  I do not remember exactly everything but foods included were: lamb, beef, yellow peas, red lentils, and fish.  When they brought out the plate, it was so beautiful I almost didn't want to eat it.  So glad I did, though, because it was all tasty.  Each preparation has its own name.  The main one we enjoyed was tibs, a meat preparation that's sauteed and mixed with veggies and delicious spices.  If you're wondering what the flavors are like, I would say they are similar to Indian, with curry hints.  In general, though, Ethiopian is really just its own, yummy fare.

 Here is my attempt at a picture tutorial.  First, grab a piece of the inerja.  It's rolled like a rolly pancake or crepe, so just tear off a piece.

Next, scoop your desired dollop of food into your inerja pocket.  Below, I am scooping my fave, one of the two beef dishes.

Once it's scooped, it kind of looks like a squishy nacho.  Below, my delicious bite.

As you can tell, I am satisfied.  It really is so very tasty.

 Below, please enjoy the before, with the beautiful platter, and after: the empty platter.

We finished with some ice cream with coconut, raspberry, and some other flavors.  We left ridiculously full.

We are by no means Ethiopian cuisine experts, but we hope to know a whole lot more about culture in general by the time we head there.  If this first taste of culture was any indication, it's going to be a great experience.

Here's to delicious, Ethiopian food!

1 comment:

  1. Apparently STL has a great resturant too. We should go!