Yesterday, I went with a couple of visitors to a local family’s house to experience some of the traditional culture. Through the encouragement of some of the American workers here, this local family began opening their home to visitors and tourists for a day to experience the culture. They charge a small fee (to us) and walk you through the steps to preparing a traditional meal. They also have items for sell at the end which are really nice!
The first thing we did was watch them make a bread called “diffo dabo.” This is their special bread and it is used for things like a Birthday or celebration. They cooked it outside over a fire and covered the dough with wet banana leaves on top and bottom to keep the bread from burning. After they put a lid on the top of the bread, they cover the lid with coals and manure so it cooks from both sides. I have no idea how they knew the temperature or when it was done, but the bread was as big as a pizza pan and 6-8 inches thick all around – massive. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that tasty, but it sure could feed a lot of people.
Next, they helped us make the injera which is the bread served at EVERY meal here. This bread is made out of teff flour – which really is only grown around here – and is left to sit for three days so that it ferments. Then they pour it onto an electric griddle or one over an open fire. It looks like a giant pancake and like maybe it tastes good. It doesn’t. It has a very spongy texture and you use it to tear off and eat everything with, but because of the fermentation you have to adjust to it over time or your stomach might rebel against you. Today the injera was served with lentils, potatoes and carrots, spinach, and a sauce called “shiro” placed on top of it. Injera is injera, but it can be served with anything and at any meal (even breakfast) – this is just what we happened to have today.
We also got to help them grind coffee and grain using a pestle and mortar type thing as well as spin cotton. The grandmother of the house could spin cotton like crazy, but it would still take her a month to spin enough cotton to take to the weaver to make a blanket or “gahbi.”
The day was a lot of fun and very educational. So educational that I made a VIDEO (click here) of it 🙂 However, it doesn’t do justice the environment and the things that we got to see and do. The video is kind of lame, but I just didn’t have the energy to make it more creative than I did, but hopefully you can get a little bit of the feel for what it was like. Enjoy!