Blog Archive

May 17, 2013

Cultural Night: Ethiopia

Inspired by the interesting things we learned about different countries during our Europe tour, our travel project #2 was conceptualized. We decided to generally call it as Cultural Night. It will be celebrated every 17th or 22nd of the month, whichever is closer to the weekend, and it will serve as our monthsary date. It will consist of three elements related to the country/region of choice: food, movie and activity. Since there are about 200 countries in the world and for it to be achievable, I limited our draw lot entries to those countries/regions with food/ingredients that can be found in the Tucson area.

For our first cultural night, the theme drawn was Ethiopian. According to Yelp, there are two restos serving Ethiopian cuisines in Tucson: Zemam's and Cafe Desta. Since Popy has been to to Zemam's before and its review score is a little bit higher than Cafe Desta, we decided to go to the former.

We ordered the combination and meat sampler, Ethiopian coffee and Ethiopian tea. For the combination sampler, I chose the spinach wat, zigni and doro wat. For the meat sampler, Popy ordered lega tibs, yedoro alicha, and mincheta bish. In Ethiopia, "often women feed the men with their fingers as a mark of love and devotion to them" so I made sure we didn't miss out on that. hehe!

Eating Ethiopian food for the first time, my notion of the food is a little bit different. As expected, some of the wat was on the spicy side but it was good. One is even similar to our afritada. Initially, I thought that the injera is just like a pita bread but it is more like a spongy sour bread so it is dipped rather than wrapped into the wat. I found the coffee too bitter inspite of the sugar and milk put into it so I swapped it with Pop's tea. Coffee originated in Ethiopia so I guess they haven't perfected it yet during that time.:p Unlike the coffee, the tea is sweet and I haven't quite pinpointed what it tastes like. We ordered too much because the platter was meant for sharing so we had the rest as takeout.

For the movie, Pop purchased from Amazon and we watched Atletu(The Athlete), which is based from the life of Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila. Interesting fact: he is what inspired the Bikila shoes for Vibram. The movie was a bit of an artsy fartsy documentation but one thing that you can see in the movie is Abebe's very patriotic thinking and here are several quotable quotes.

-  "I wanted the world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism"

- "Men of success meet with tragedy. It was the will of God that I won the Olympics, and it was the will of God that I met with my accident. I accepted those victories as I accept this tragedy. I have to accept both circumstances as facts of life and live happily."

- “It took an entire Italian army to conquer Ethiopia, but only one Ethiopian soldier to conquer Rome”

Obviously since Ethiopia is famous for long distance runners so we planned to have running as our activity. Unfortunately, this was not quite possible because of Pop's foot problem so we opted for the tamer alternative: walking/jogging.

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