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Ethiopian cuisine

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Produce vendor in Addis Ababa

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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.

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Newly sown fields of teff outside Axum

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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.

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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.

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While not indigenous to Africa, the prickly pear cactus is ubiquitous in Ethiopia, and in Lalibela and Axum, cactus pears are a popular treat.

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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.

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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.

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Leten achen!

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