When we talk about Ethiopian culture this involves their way of life and not forgetting their tasty food. The fact that the country was never colonized by any European country, all that they have including their unique food is basically local food that they have been feeding on for more than 100 years. Ethiopians are known to love their food spicy and each dish has a different taste and cannot be compared to the other. Some of the food that you will find in the country will be extremely hard to taste but just know that it will not kill you and some locals even give a chance to tourists to see how they prepare the food before being served.
Where to eat from in Ethiopia
There are several restaurants in the country where you can travel during your food tour to Ethiopia and whereas some of these specialize in serving special meals and specific types of food, there are those that are open and serve almost everything as long as it is edible. Most of the restaurants that are found in the country especially outside Addis Ababa are always open from 7:30 am to 10:00pm so as to serve tourists better.
There are a lot of dishes that are prepared and which you can enjoy while on your food tour to the country. You will need an experienced tour guide who will take you to the different restaurants and places where you can get to taste the food. Some of the tasty food that you will find in Ethiopia that is served almost everywhere includes:
The Kifto is a delicacy in Ethiopia and the way it is prepared makes it tastier. It is prepared using butter and lean meat which is crushed before adding a spice which makes it get a better taste. It can be served with minced spinach and dry cheese and in most cases it is served when it is just warm and not hot.
This is a delicacy when it comes to Ethiopians although for most tourists it is not easily eaten. Injera is fermented bread which is served with almost every meal that you eat in Ethiopia making it a must taste for tourists. The Injera sometimes causes stomach problems but it is still worth tasting.
Also known as the Kai Wat, this can be translated to as a spiced curry and it is mostly served with Injera. It is a delicacy to many locals but you need to be careful while eating due to the hotness of the spice. Every type of meat can be used to make the Wat except pork which is always avoided by both the orthodox Christians and Muslims.
The wat can also be prepared using vegetables and this is mostly done during the lent period and the red sauce that is added to the Wat is what makes it have the pepper heat. When you get to Ethiopia, unless you ask for the Kai wat you will be served with only the other wat sources that do not have the pepper in them.
The Tere Sega
The Tere Sega is also delicacy in the country and it is one of the many dishes that is considered to be for only the rich ones. The Tere sega is not for the faint hearted because it is fresh raw meat which is served to the people. There are even restaurants that actually deal in the tere sega and unlike the butchers where you will see a lot of blood, restaurants are cleaner although when you ask for it, you will be served with raw meat on a plate. Many locals enjoy this dish especially after the lent period and you can drown it with either a glass of wine or beer.
This is normally eaten in the Eastern part of the country and they are shrub leaves which are a delicacy to the locals that side. You will find very many people chewing the chat and its effects on the people is like marijuana although some people say they get zero effect from it. There are two type of chat that is the sweet one and the bitter one and it is extremely advisable that tourist ask for the sweet chat since its effects are not as harsh as those of the sour one.
The Vegan food trip in Ethiopia
Ethiopia is known for her vegetarian ways and that is why some people come to the country just to get a good taste of the various vegetables that are prepared in the country. The country is mostly filled with Orthodox Christians and these put a rule of no eating meat on Wednesdays and Fridays which is upheld by everyone in the country. On these days, you will have a chance to taste the vegetable dishes prepared in the country either in restaurants or on the streets and these are to die for and this is mostly done during the fasting period but this does not mean that you will not get the chance to taste the delicious vegetables during other days. Some of the vegetable dishes that you can taste during the fasting period include broad bean and butter, lentil curry, minced spinach and beetroot.
When you get to Ethiopia, you will find that there are some things that must be done during food time whether you are a tourist or not and these are:
The habits and cultures that surround eating food in Ethiopia
There are several customs and habits that you need to find out before you get to your food trip in the country and you need to follow these customs if you do not want to be embarrassed and some of these customs include the following:
When people are eating in Ethiopia, they normally share food because they believe that whoever uses individual plates for eating wastes food and therefore when you visit the country, make sure that you at least abide to this custom and share with your fellow tourist.
Ethiopians rarely use cutlery while they are eating and this is a custom to them, one of the few customs that you have to uphold if you want to enjoy your food peacefully just make sure that you try as much as possible to use your hands even when sharing a plate.
Before you start eating the food, a jug of water and basin are provided for everyone who is going to eat the food due to the fact that the plates of food are going to be shared and this is also done in restaurants.
The locals like inviting other to come and share their food especially in their homesteads and the Amharic word that is normally used when inviting is Enebla which means come and join us please. When invited even though you are not hungry it is considered polite to at least a little bit of the food offered before you can continue on your way.
When given the food morsels, it is polite to accept them and also if possible you can share it among your fellows and make sure that you eat slowly because they do not take well with someone who eats fast and they can label you as a greedy person. Therefore you are supposed to eat the food as slowly as possible till the meal is done.
Etiquette when eating food in Ethiopia
Just like any other country all other the world, the Ethiopians have their own etiquette that they follow when it comes to food. Although this might differ with the rest of the world, it is not surprising since the country has less influence from the Western countries.
When eating keep your left hand away from the food because it is considered the hand that is used for body cleansing which means you only have to use the right hand.
If in case you are invited to someone’s place for food, it is only polite for you to carry a present for them as a token of appreciation. It can be anything ranging from flowers, sweets and maybe coffee.
Food is served on one plate or tray but it is only right that you pick your food from your side of the tray or plate because reaching to someone else’s side of the tray is very impolite.
Do not put a lot of food in your mouth, don’t wipe your mouth during the meal and you should definitely not lick your fingers while eating in Ethiopia. And when you carry a lot of food in your hands make sure that you do not put it back on the plate it is better if you throw it on the floor or in a napkin.
It is considered good manners if you leave some food on the plate after a meal because if you finish all of it, it is believed to be an omen which causes famine.