What Ethiopia Gave the World : My Post about Food


Ethiopian Fasting (veggie) Plate

Ethiopia. When I got this fellowship I had to google it. I knew where it was on a map (thank you, Professor Van Inwagen!) but didn’t know too much besides that. Maybe you were like me and also had to do a quick search. To fill in your Ethiopian knowledge a bit I wanted to share a few cool things Ethiopia has given the world. For example there is the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Rastafari Movement, Coffee, Lucy (one of the oldest hominids ever found),  Green yellow and red flag colors (which were incorporated into many other African flags when they gained independence), African castles, great hairstyles, probably a lot more, oh and Ethiopian food!

People that know me know I really like food. I love to cook, I love to eat, and I love socializing with people over a good meal. These same people keep asking me if I am liking the food here. The answer is yes. The food is wonderful! Indian and Ethiopian are two of my all-time favorite foods, and when I found out that I got to leave my Costa Rican rice and beans for injeria and the goodness that goes on top of it (called “wot”), I was ecstatic!

I am a vegetarian, and lucky for me the Christians who belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (62% of the country) have a fasting time of the year (250 days including the 40 days of Lent) and each Wednesday and Friday are also fasting days. This means they can’t eat meat or animal products. This is unbelievably good news  for me- the majority of the country goes vegan for at least 2 days a week!


This goat got away from his heard

On the other days of the week meat is a staple. Tibs (sautéed meat) and Kifto (raw meat) are very common, and many of the local restaurants have butchers attached to the restaurant to provide VERY fresh meat. Goats, sheep and cattle can be seen herded through even the busiest of streets here to supply the meat loving restaurant goers. I don’t mind because you really couldn’t get more farm to table, sustainable or organic then this system!


A woman dries chiles, a key ingredient for many wots



There is so much to say about the preparing of Ethiopian food, the history and the rituals around it. I rather you go to your closest Ethiopian restaurant and experience it for yourself, and I will just tell you my favorite parts about the food culture here.





Shiro, the best thing ever!

The traditional meal is communal and you eat off one plate.  I always love communal eating, and I appreciate cultures that highly value sitting around a table, chatting with friends and family, and enjoying a good dish. This is certainly one of those cultures and you can see people sitting around food or coffee pretty much anywhere (Seattle has nothing on Addis in terms of cafe lovers). Another fun thing about the food practices is that it is also traditional to pick up some food with your injeria, then place it in someone’s mouth. This act is called gursha and is a sign of friendship and affection. I also just love how old this food is! It could date back anywhere from 2,000-5,000 years.

So this is my blog about food and about the other great things Ethiopia has shared with the world.  I would have more pictures, but when the plates are set in front of me pictures slip my mind and I just dig in. Thanks Ethiopia for the great food!


10 things you didn’t know about Ethiopia  and Ethiopian food 101– just click on these links




  1. #1 by Pushpa Iyer on July 12, 2014 - 11:02 am

    I second this! Ethiopian food is the best! And Shiro is certainly to die for!

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Sites DOT MIISThe Middlebury Institute site network.