Monday, February 19, 2007

something exotic

For a long time, the hubby and I have been planning to try some Ethiopian food. We have an Ethiopian friend from work whom we asked to take us and be our “guide” in an exotic quest. However, for whatever reasons, we never got to sample any morsel of Ethiopian fare until last Saturday.

Paulos, our Ethiopian tipster, finally took us to an Ethiopian restaurant in Arlington. We asked him what to order and how much should we order. Ethiopian food, traditionally, is served on a round wicker basket (or platter, maybe) and is shared by everyone. And it is eaten with your hands. Paulos said we should have a vegetable order, and then some meat. So we ordered mixed vegetables and chicken curry.

A few minutes later, we were served a huge platter with a variety of sweet-spicy smelling veggies and chicken curry with a wonderfully tasting sauce. And of course, the main attraction was the injera- the Ethiopian bread. We had always been fascinated by this pancake-like bread. Some Ethiopian people from work sometimes bring it at work for lunch, and one officemate even called it a “blanket” since it’s soft and cushiony. I, being too chicken, didn’t try it because I was afraid I might not like it and might embarrass myself in front of a lot of people (in case I make a funny face). But injera is far from being gross and unappetizing. It’s actually bland, because you have to eat with the rich, flavorful food.

So the food sat on a "mat" of injera. But a plate of it is served to each diner. The food was so interesting-looking I had to ask our friend if it was okay if I took a picture of it (we were the only non-Ethiopian diners there at the time). He said it’s okay. We took a piece of injera, sort of ‘picked’ the variety of food on the platter, and ate it. I liked the vegetables a lot- chickpeas, cabbage, pepper, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes cooked in tasty, spice-rich sauces. I liked their tomato salad- simply made with vinegar and olive oil with hot green pepper. The injera "mat" tasted so wonderful afterwards because it absorbed all the juices and flavors of the food.

The lunch was definitely exotic, perfectly delicious and we would totally try it again. Ethiopian cuisine is interesting, and we’re excited to try the beef ‘tibs’ next time. Tibs, according to Paulos, is what all Ethiopians talk about. One thing I learned about the experience? Never shy away from a chance to taste exotic food. Life’s buzz doesn’t happen if you stick to just rice, pasta and fried chicken.

No comments: