Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Spice of Life

Tea and Coffee Pots
Ive often wondered why it is that for most of us in the west we have almost the same thing for breakfast every morning, but insist on almost never having the same thing for dinner two nights in a row. Ethiopians don’t seem to have this problem – they eat injera at almost every meal, and the range of spices and sauces and vegetables they eat with it is quite limited, but they are, to a man – and woman – incredibly enthusiastic about the stuff. Whereas  we in the west are mostly quite curious about the foods of other nations, and we like to try it – Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Spanish, Italian, Mexican, Indian - anything really - Ethiopians – well the ones around here - seem not to be, and  for them, gastronomically, variety is NOT the spice of life : Injera is. They seem never happier than when upending a dish of spicy sauce onto a plate of fresh injera and using the right hand tearing the injera into pieces and scooping up the sauce and vegetables a mouthful at a time. 
"Scrambled Injera" is Injera with Injera on top
I have grown accustomed to Injera and some of the ways its served;  I had some today with cooked diced meat and onion and spices at the Wubet  Hotel for lunch, and enjoyed it, could probably live on it of I had to, but I know what I prefer to eat, though mostly what I prefer  is not available here. What IS available is a limited range of vegetables –tomatoes, onions, cabbage, green peppers, potatoes carrots and beetroot – banana, limes and bread, as well as many spices, ginger, eggs and pasta in a couple of shapes, spaghetti and rice. There are also the scrawny chickens, and in the little stores I can buy small tins of shredded tuna fish swimming in oil, and fancy biscuits which are very small and manufactured with some sort of drying agent which turns each tiny biscuit into about the most drying and water absorbent object known to man – it makes the inside of your mouth feel as if its been wiped dry with a handful of dust, so must be ingested with coffee or tea on standby. So these are the supplies I have been keeping stocked up on, and from which I make my meals.

Dabo and Mus = bread and bananas
Typically I have coffee and a bread roll with a small banana inside for breakfast. Sometimes its just coffee.  At morning tea time I have a tiny cup of sweet tea and a sambusa  from the hospital kiosk, and for lunch more bread roll with tomatoes and green pepper , or another banana or  slices of beetroot – a cup of tea and a packet of those tiny biscuits – there are 6 and they cost 12 cents a packet! I also buy lollies at 1 birr each – the same as a nice banana but I have to indulge my sweet tooth somehow.

Everything chopped up in a pan, with Rice or Pasta
For my dinner I typically chop up tomatoes, onions cabbage and ginger, fry them in a little oil, then add a tin of tuna fish, perhaps some tomato paste and water, juice of a lime and then  eat it with rice or pasta. I usually have some left over for breakfast or lunch the next day when I might supplement it with scrambled egg which is made with NZ powdered milk. I can also make a kind of soup with all the same vegetables chopped up and boiled for ages with two cups of split yellow peas or lentils, and I eat that with bread. The chicken pieces I thaw to use instead of the fish, but have only had four such meals as I gave some of my chicken to Shewayes famly for Xmas. And sometimes I just have all the chopped up vegetables and rice with a bit of local spice added. A couple of times I have made fried fish cakes from mashed up potato and the same tinned tuna, but essentially I seem to be living on bread, tomatoes and onions, tuna, cabbage  beetroot and eggs. I was really hungry a lot of the time in the first two or three weeks, but I think my stomach has shrunk to match the reduced volume of food I am eating, and I know I eat a lot less than I used to but nowadays I hardly ever feel hungry. I think my more or less vegetarian diet may be good for me – but the food I think about most when imagining being home again, is a juicy medium rare salty lamb chop cooked on a BBQ. 

1 comment:

  1. Would you like us to organise a Red Cross food parcel for you :)