Monday, May 30, 2011

Ethiopian Food

There are millions of Ethiopians living in different parts of the earth. This has led to many restaurants being opened, with the characteristic food. These restaurants are not only visited by Ethiopians themselves, but by many others. A lot of us have learned to appreciate this rich, tasty food. The only problem I can think of is that you have to eat by hand! While this might take a while to get used to, it does make the food taste even better.
The staple food is called injera and looks like a big pancake. It is made of a special flour called teff, and has been fermented for three days before being fried on one side only, without any fat. Teff is easily available in the US and some parts of Europe. It is actually cultivated in some parts of the States! You can buy it both on amazon, as well as in the health-stores.
With injera they serve a lot of different sauces and stews. With or without meat. In fact, Ethiopia has many vegetarian dishes since the major religion prohibits meat on a regular basis.
Usually a lot of onions are used. These are chopped finely and made to sweat in a big pot! Once all the water has gone away, spicy butter and chilli pepper is added. When it has all cooked together, meat or lentils are put in the pot. This will result in a rich, thick stew!
A piece of injera is put on the plate, and a little stew (watt) is put on top. You eat with your right hand, and drink with the left one. The fingers should never touch your lips, so eating from the same plate (as is the culture) is quite OK! A good injera eater will have clean fingers when finished. Try to achieve that next time you go to for Ethiopian food!
Since I love the food, I have prepared a few recipe collections for Ethiopian food. An introduction,including the national chicken dish, some vegetarian recipes, as well as how to prepare the injera and butter. It is really not too difficult to learn how to make this food, and it is so much worth it. It is really, really tasty!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ethiopia's Animals

Ethiopia has a wide range of wild-life. With a very diverse fauna, the wild-life also differs from the different parts of the country. The mountains in the northern parts, the desert areas and the fertile, green south.
It is also interesting to note that there are many endemic animals in Ethiopia. This means that they are native to the region, some of them are only found in Ethiopia. Among these we can mention the Walia Ibex, a mountain goat that is close to extintion. It lives in the mountainous regions in the north, but only a few hundred animals are left. One reason is that is poaching, but the other reason is a very common threat to animals everywhere. Man is changing the habitat, by means of deforestation and agriculture. In fact, even if the number of the Walia would increase, there is not much space for them. How terrible.
There are also many birds in Ethiopia, migrating ones and permanent. Out of the 800 species of birds, a very large number (29) are endemic. Just to mention a few: Blue-winged goose, White-tailed swallow and Abyssinian catbird.
A very popular animal name is Nyala. This is the name of an antelope, and the name is derived from Swahili and Zulu! The kind found in Ethiopia is also referred to as Mountain Nyala. One of the most common insurance companies in Ethiopia is called Nyala Insurance. There is also a restaurant with the name Nyala in Vancouver, which serves African food, and another one in Los Angeles!
Ethiopia is not so developed yet when it comes to safaris, but they are working on it. Word has it that the right to develop the National Parks is being given on a lease to foreigners. Hopefully this will mean more opportunities to see Ethiopia's fantastic wild-life at close range!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ethiopian proverbs

One thing that Ethiopians are well-known for is the use of proverbs. There are so many of them, and they are used daily. Especially old people like counselling the younger generation with an appropriate proverb. Some of them are a little bit off, using words and expression normally not mentioned in the Western world. But most of them are really good for all of us, regardless of where we live in the world.
Of course, sometimes we need to understand the country and the culture to really appreciate a saying. Even people reading the Bible have had this dilemma. In some languages there are no words for sheep, they don’t exist in that part of the world. How do you explain illustrations about a shepherd to these people? The same with Ethiopian proverbs, sometimes they mention situations that we have never heard of. This only makes it all more interesting, in my opinion!
Here is a selection of proverbs: ’After the hyena has gone, the dog barks’ , ’ The point of the needle must pass first’,’ Coffee and love taste best when hot’. Especially the last one is very good! To know when to use which proverb is not always easy. If you choose the wrong one, the whole meaning will change. But, on the other hand, you choose the right one- the point will be very clear!