And I Can Cook, Too

Monday, April 10, 2006

March 31, 2006

Out of Africa

Washington D.C. has more Ethiopians than anyplace in the world other than Ethiopia. It stands to reason that where there are so many Ethiopians, there will be Ethiopian food. Noting that Ethiopia was the place where children would starve if we didn’t clean our plates as a children, and amusing ourselves with jokes in poor taste, my husband and I eagerly met a few friends at Meskerem, and prepared for dinner on a pancake.

We were seated on wicker stools surrounding a low round table. There were no place settings at the table: dinner would be eaten with our fingers from a shared plate. We ordered the Meskerem Messob, a combination platter of chicken, beef, lamb, and lentils. Because I liked saying it so much, we tossed in an order of Gored Gored, rare lean beef dipped in “awaze”, a sauce of milled pepper thickened with honey wine, butter and spices. A bottle of Ethiopian honey wine was ordered to wash it all down. Our order arrived in the form of a big round plate topped with Injeera; the spongy flat bread that would be used to scoop up our food. On top of the injeera sat the entrees. Leaning forward to avoid massive drippage we tore off bits of the injeera and dug in. Much to my delight, the chicken was served with whole hard-boiled eggs and a lovely brown sauce studded with onions and ginger. The beef was stewed with carrots and onions, and was very reminiscent of a European style beef stew. The lentils were deliciously vinegary. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, my favorite was the spicy Gored Gored. So rare it was practically a tartar, the slightly sweet and peppery sauce woke up every single one of my taste buds. The honey wine, much maligned before its arrival at the table, was the perfect beverage to handle the variety of flavors on the plate. It was surprisingly refreshing, and not remotely too sweet.

Our final delight of the evening was the sauce soaked injeera that remained on the plate after we polished off everything else. We made quick work of it, and waddled back to our room.

Life is beautiful.


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