Love's part of the feedback
Rocky Mountain News, CO - Jun 20, 2006
In some restaurants, it's OK to share a plate of food and eat with your fingers.
It's the tradition you'll experience when you go out for Ethiopian food, where meals are served on a communal platter and food is scooped up with bits of injera, a delicious, spongy, flat bread unlike anything you've ever before eaten.
It's just one of many features of this East African cuisine that is unique and wonderful.
And like many of the world's food traditions, Ethiopian food also includes tastes and aromas we don't typically encounter in fast food or family chain restaurants. But if you're willing to venture out of your comfort zone and try something new, you'll find in Ethiopian foods some of the best-tasting and healthful foods you'll ever eat.
It all starts with the injera.
Injera bread looks like a huge, round, thin, gray-brown crepe. The flavor is distinct but mild -- the main ingredient in the bread is teff, an ancient grain -- with a slightly sour taste similar to buckwheat. The injera serves as both plate and utensil.
Here's what I mean:
When you go out to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant, you'll be seated at a small, round wicker table. Everyone orders their food, and a large round tray -- as big or bigger than a large pizza pan -- is brought out and placed on the table. The tray -- big enough that it looks like the tabletop -- is covered with a giant piece of injera. Food is brought out in bowls, but servers scoop it out of the bowls and place individual servings directly on top of the injera.
When the server is finished, the injera is covered with small scoops of food, with individual servings placed in front of each guest at the table.
Also in front of each guest is another piece of injera, soft and pliable, folded into quarters like a napkin. That's your spoon...
Now for the catch: There are too few Ethiopian restaurants around, unless you live in a big city like New York or Washington. In North Carolina, we're fortunate to have a few. In Raleigh, visit Abyssinia at 2109 Avent Ferry Road. In Chapel Hill, eat at Queen of Sheba's at 115 N. Graham St. In Charlotte, Red Sea at 206 E. Independence Blvd.
Remember: If finding healthy foods is a challenge, you might be looking in the wrong places. Seek out ethnic restaurants and open up a whole new world of opportunities for good, and delicious, food.