Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Involuntary Vegetarian

1000 ways to eat Beets

Finding food I can enjoy is a bit of a struggle here but I have been helped and reassured by remembering  dietary advice my father gave me years ago. He said its important to have a varied diet so “if you have Mash (mashed potato) and bangers (sausages) one week, be sure to have mash and mince (minced meat) the next “Actually I would LOVE some NZ beef sausages or some mince right now. I am more or less vegetarian, except for twice when Ive ordered the meat sauce with spaghetti at Wubet. I eat lots of bread which is sold as small rolls and are fresh and tasty but theres no butter or cheese so I fill them with slices of tomato and green pepper, or a banana, or, as a special treat a thin smear of  delicious strawberry jam from a ¾ full jar that Fritz left behind. And last week I  bought a Kg jar of Peanut Butter from Jamals store in town. Yesterday I boiled a huge beetroot for an hour or two and for breakfast today filled my roll with slices of it cold. It was a bit fibrous but tasty. For lunch I will boil two eggs and put them in the roll. I also drink lots of bottled water and have coffee once or twice a day. As for fruit, I have eaten some oranges but haven’t  bought more because when you eat one you spend most of the time  spitting out a mouthful of pips and indigestible fibre for a tiny dribble of juice. I have eaten injera on a few more occasions and I am nearly ready to order a full meal of it one of these days at the Wubet. Lately for my evening meal I have been having either boiled rice or Mash with raw onion mixed in, whilst working my way through a cabbage.  I slice it up and either boil or stir fry with onion tomatoes and peppers with a dash of a Thai red Curry paste also left behind by Fritz – or his predecessor perhaps? Again I am trying to  spin that out and make it last.

I have been invited by various colleagues to several “Coffee Ceremonies” in nearby Hospital flats. These are essentially social events put on with the slightest excuse, where traditional coffee is brewed in a pot on a special charcoal fired burner on the floor  and served sweet and black in small cups. The floor on each occasion I have attended was always strewn with a layer of freshly cut long grass with a few bright red flowers scattered here and there. Sometimes there is something to eat as well but just a snack, such as pieces of bread or freshly popped corn. Everyone lies about on the floor and on the few chairs or bed and chats and laughs away in the smoky gloom till the coffee is all gone.
Bananas at Coffee ceremony

Ethiopians seem to be very sociable people, and always greet one another with great affection. The traditional handshake seems to be grabbing the outstretched hand by the thumb and then bending forward so the two right shoulders meet.. Homophobes would feel uncomfortable here I am sure as men often wander along the street holding hands or with arms around each other – but I was told there are no gays here, theyre in Bahir Dar! 
Simegnew and Monemon , two wonderful midwives
I am a reasonably touchy-feely sort of guy I think, but I feel a bit weird walking through the hospital holding hands with one of the other Doctors! On the other hand if one of the budding Ethiopian supermodel midwives wants to give me an enthusiastic hug and hold my hand, well I just do my best to put up with it.

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