Ethiopia cuisine is unique by way of ceremony, flavor, color and presentation first decorated metal or clay water jugs are brought to the table and their contents poured over the guest’s outstretched hands in to a small bowl below. This cleansing is sometimes followed by a short prayer of thanksgiving. The first course, which immediately follows this ceremonial aspect of the meal, is usually a mild dish such as curds and whey to cleanse the palate for the more spicy offerings that follow. Wot, the national dish comes in many varieties-meats, fish, poultry or vegetable- of hot pepper and spice stews which are almost always accompanied by a fermented form of unleavened bread called injera. Layers of the bread are geometrically positioned in Mesobs, or basket tables, and spoonful’s of the different types of wot are then attractively portioned out on top of them. Then it’s finger time, tearing off a piece of injera and wrapping it around a chosen piece of meat with savory sauce.
For those not accustomed to such hot foods whose ingredients include red and black pepper, cardamom, garlic and coriander, there is an alternative: Alicha is equally delicious but a lot milder and is usually made from chicken or lamb flavored with green pepper and onions.
Traditional Ethiopia meals are normally washed down with Tej, a type of wine made from honey, or Tella which is light, home – brewed beer manufactured from barley. Ethiopia also produces a range of very palatable yet Inexpensive red and white wines.
Ethiopia do not traditionally end their meals with a dessert although, if it can be found, a honeycomb dripping with honey is often offered to sooth the heat of the wot. In any event, the end of meal is not complete without buna, (the Ethiopia word for coffee), the world’s favorite beverage which actually originated in Ethiopia about a thousand years ago.