September 15, 2007

Ethiopian Food

We recently bought an Ethiopian cookbook (not easy to find - we found ours used from a woman online who calls herself "church lady") and have been visiting Ethiopian restaurants in the city. So far we've been to Awash in the East Village and Meskerem in West Midtown. We prefer Meskerem to Awash as their spreads (the original tapas) were much more flavorful and the injera was quite good. We've been told that Meskel in the East Village is fantastic so we'll be trying there next. One of the benefits of living partially in the city is that not only do we have access to any kind of ethnic cuisine, but there are multiple options within each. It seems like the Upper-Upper West Side (Amsterdam and the 120's) and the East Village are home to most of NYC's Ethiopian restaurants although there are several others scattered around the city as well.

Ethiopian food has always held a special place in our hearts, even before we began the adoption process. I was raised in a fairly conservative home in a family of five where family meals in the dining room were the norm and dinner was always one of seven options: Spaghetti with meat sauce, porcupines (meatballs with rice and tomato sauce), chicken and rice, tacos, beef stroganoff, pizza, or popcorn. My husband on the other hand was an only child and although has always had two consistent father figures in his life it was often just Mike & Mom for dinner. Not that his mother didn't value family dinners in the dining room, but the emphasis was placed more on dining out and experiencing new and different cuisines. So, needless to say when we started dating we both enjoyed each other's family's "dining norms" and he enjoyed large family Sunday dinners at my house while I enjoyed being taken to various ethnic restaurants with his family. One of the first was Ethiopian. Although I enjoyed the tapas-style spreads I immediately equated injera to an edible form of the ace bandage. Perhaps Ethiopian wasn't the best choice for my introduction to African cuisine, but to this day both of us recall that evening almost minute-by-minute as one of our most special. Little did we know why until we began the adoption process this year!

Since that day (now 11 years later) we've tried multiple other Ethiopian restaurants and I've grown to love the tapas style spreads and even enjoy the injera. My taste buds just needed some time to evolve. We have yet to cook a dish out of our Ethiopian cookbook, but that is definitely on the list of to-do's for the next week. They don't look to difficult, mostly onions, tomatoes, cumin, cardamom, ginger, and a protein. We can't wait to have our first try at preparing injara! Anyone out there have a particular recipe that you recommend?

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