Produce vendor in Addis Ababa
The staple of Ethiopian cuisine is injera, a kind of oversized whole-grain sourdough pancake make from teff, a distant relative of wheat. It’s a little strong-tasting for most American palates, but when it’s soaked in meat juices it’s not bad.
Newly sown fields of teff outside Axum
Here’s my boss at Haramaya University chowing down on some raw beef. I tried some and it tasted like, uh, raw beef. Not anything I’d go out of my way for.
Shiro is a paste made from the ground-up seeds of the lupin plant (Lupinus alba). The lupin is a member of the subfamily leguminosinae, which also includes peas and beans. The lupin is little-know outside of Ethiopia, and when it is cultivated, it’s mostly as a cover crop or for animal feed. But it makes pretty good people food, too.
While not indigenous to Africa, the prickly pear cactus is ubiquitous in Ethiopia, and in Lalibela and Axum, cactus pears are a popular treat.
Here I am having a drink of talla, a local beverage brewed from sorghum. It didn’t taste bad, although I found the sorghum hulls floating on top a bit disconcerting at first.
The national drink of Ethiopia is tej, or honey wine (we call it mead). I expected it to be sickeningly sweet, but surprisingly it’s not. The best varieties taste like a semi-dry white wine.
All photos by author