Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ethiopian Cuisine

For those that failed to remember, call or write; my birthday was last week. And as a part of my birthday celebration, my lovely wife took me to an Ethiopian restaurant in town. Neither of us had ever dined on Ethiopian fare before, but being the foodies that we claim to be and the due to our pending adoption, we were very excited.

Washington DC contains the largest population of Ethiopians outside of the the country itself, so there are plenty of options for Ethiopian food. There is even the equivalent of a "Little Ethiopia" in the U Street Corridor of the city with a lot of restaraunts, grocery stores, and art boutiques all representing this beloved country. One of these places is Dukem Ethiopian Market and it was a great introduction for us. Dukem not only has highly rated and authentic Ethiopian food, but also has a live Ethiopian band and dancers to go along with the experience every Wednesday night.

If you have never eaten Ethiopian food, it is indeed different. Everything comes on top of and with a type of wheat flour pancake called "Injera". We thought the taste would be similar to an American pancake at first, but it wasn't. It's not a bad taste, but not a great taste either. The best part of the cuisine is what comes on top of the Injera - referred to as "wat". We had a sampler and the wat includes everything from lentils, greens, tomato and jalapeno salad, spicey lamb, chicken, ground beef and many other interesting and sometimes spicey choices.

One distinguishing aspect of Ethiopian cuisine is the absence of utensils. Instead of a fork and a knife, you tear off pieces of injera and then grab the wat (starting to sound like "Who's on First?") almost like small fajitas. It is very messy, but fun.

At first I thought we were getting jipped on portion sizes, but after being unable to finish the whole thing, I realized why they serve it like they do. The Injera fills you up like crazy, so you really have to pace yourself.

As far as the drink, they have very unique wine in Ethiopia called honey wine. It is almost like a Reisling or other white desert wine and compliments the spicey food well.

All in all, we thouroughly enjoyed our night at Dukem and it was so exciting to witness some of the Ethiopian culture first hand. It is weird to think that a restaurant could be so cool in that respect, but it really was meaningful to both of us to experience even a small portion of the culture and food of a country that will soon be such a large part of our life. Hopefully, we can add Ethiopian fare to our repitore in the coming months and share it with some of you when you visit.


KCG said...

Sorry to have missed your birthday.

I've never been a fan of eating stews with my hands. Like the Germans (I'm 100% Deutsche), the Ethiopians are not famous for great cuisine. But the ambiance and energy in Ethiopian places is always fun.

the albertsons said...

see, that's why we need to come visit you, to hang out and go eat Ethiopian together. So fun! LOVE the NC, but not like the big city...
hope yall are well!
b and z