Each time I go to Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant, I find myself warmed from the inside out.
Of course this can be explained on a chemical basis. Ethiopian cooking is dominated by warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, clove, and cardamom, not to mention the capsaicin packing spice mixture, berbere.
There's an intangible warmth at Mesob resonates beyond food science.
If you've ever hesitated about going to Mesob, or any ethnic restaurant that suggests eating without utensils, do yourself a favor, put the knife and fork down, use a moist towelette, and dig in.
Tear the injera, and with a claw like motion scoop combinations of wots. Then mix and match as you like, perhaps doro wot (tradtional Ethiopian stew) along with farmer's cheese or greens. It's delicious fun!
Once you're comfortable eating with your hands, you can assimilate further into Ethiopian table culture and give, or receive a gursha. A gursha, a tradition most hand-santizer toting Americans would consider unthinkable, is the Ethiopian act of hand feeding another. The feeder, notably, cannot be denied by the feedie, as it would be an insult and very embarrassing.
The gursha illustrates expressly what is so endearing and admirable about the Ethiopian culture: trust. They trust deeply who they are dining with. They simply open and receive with graciousness. The gursha is a beautiful tradition that provides connection to the food, and is, moreover an affirmation and declaration of family. I thank the Mengistu family for sharing their tradtion with me and my family.
Watch the video to join us at the table.
How to use our Injera as a utensil wasn't all we learned that day. We happened to visit Mesob on Ethiopian Christmas Day.
Large pieces of grass and fragrant Eucalyptus decorated the peg hardwood floor, and the aroma of roasting Ethiopian coffee beans, for the traditional coffee ceremony, wafted through the air.
Curious? Watch the video to learn all about traditions surrounding Ethiopian Christmas.
Article also published at www.baristanet.com.