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Saturday, December 21, 2013

#Ethiopia|n Gourmet Goes Mainstream in The US

When Punishment turns out Carrier 
Ethiopian Recipes from Hiyaw GebreyohannesOh finally my prayer is heard thanks to Hiyaw Gebreyohannes, a young Ethiopian restaurateur and entrepreneur from Michigan - US. When he got in trouble as a kid, his mom used to punish Gebreyohannes with onion-chopping duty in the kitchen of his parents’ Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto. Typical Ethiopian, aren't we? Even now most Ethiopian men and women think that Kitchen is a "no go zone" for men; any ወንድ (MALE) who who remotely does something otherwise is considered ሴታሴት ወንድ አሰዳቢ effeminate. “Ethiopian men don’t go into the kitchen,” explains Gebreyohannes, whose parents fled the country in 1981 after Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed by a coup. “When I went out to play and lost track of time, my mother would punish me, saying, ‘Now you’re in the kitchen with me.’ ” But what started as a punishment
ended up as love—and, later, a career. Gebreyohannes became adept at not only prepping vegetables but also helping his mother and aunts add spices like smoked paprika and cardamom to home-style meat and vegetable stews. The kitchen became a place for talking about what was happening at school, and about his dreams.  Right now, sixty food stores in the US are selling with a brand called the TasteofEthiopia and  I do hope this will spread to the rest of the world. You can watch CNN's recent feature about Hiyaw's endeavor in the food industry, at the bottom of this article. 


Injera Rules 

I was always thinking why, Ethiopian food with so much flavor, passion and authenticity have never made it to supermarkets and chain restaurants like other cuisines do. I remember when I came to Sweden Thai food was hype followed by Sushi and now Indian food at every corner in Stockholm. Guess what, I can count on my right hand Ethiopian restaurants which claim to serve "Ethiopian" food a far cry from authenticity; bland, tasteless and small are an understatement. So, there is no wonder why our organic, healthy and sophisticated food which our mothers, grandmothers, great great grandmothers had preserved and improvised for hundreds of generation couldn't make it the shelves of food-stores and fast-food chains. Those who are in the restaurant business be it here anywhere in the world put so much passion on profit on every single thing than thinking bigger. Injera for example is the most sophisticated (I know I'm biased but I can't help it) bread usually made of Teff ( the tiniest gluten-free food grain in the world which used to grow only in Ethiopia but
recently is being grown in Utah, by some Ethiopian and US farmers) and the process is much more complicated than any bread in the world. What still amazes me not that this grain is unique to Ethiopia but how on earth the first person found out these tiny grains could be food to feed millions of Ethiopians for generations. Teff is a very labor-intensive grain for farmers but they still farm it regardless of the difficulties to harvest it. The baking process also takes an average three days so that it tastes a bit sour which makes you addicted, for that reason I call Injera an equivalent of Class A drug. Our Ethiopian mothers and sisters have a magic how to turn that smelly dough in something addictive when they bake it. They pour out the excessive watery yeast on top then they take a cup (or more according to its proportion) from it, then boil it to mix it with the dough later on. Baking Injera is such laborious and long process but it still continues to be a favorite spongy sour bread and of course a cutlery at Ethiopians table. My Iranian friend loves Injera so much that when whenever we go to some these "Ethiopian" restaurants, he finishes that tiny but expensive meal in few minutes and devours on everybody's on the table. His addiction doesn't stop there, he told me when he went to the US to visit his Eritrean childhood friend two years ago, they were going to Ethiopian restaurants all the time during his two weeks stay. Thanks to our foremothers, smothers, isters and aunties who kept this wonderful culinary tradition which I'm sure will be a future staple food at the rest of the world. Yeah, I'll repeat it once again Injera Rules! Amen.



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