Tag Archives: Addis Ababa

around addis!

hello world!

as many of you know, for the past few weeks our family has been in addis ababa, ethiopia. this friday, we finally got around to touring the city! our guide, gashaw, was awesome and showed us some really cool places.

the first place we visited was called merkato. it is a huge open air market, and the largest market in africa! it’s super busy and pretty chaotic but there’s something beautiful about it.

there are separate sections in the market. the first one we walked through was full of spices and grains: chilis, black and white cumin, turmeric, onion, chickpeas, popcorn, coffee, lentils, barley, and peanuts. those things along with the smell of livestock, incense, and car exhaust was a lot to take in. there were many different smells, sounds, and colors. it was so lively and stimulating.

the second part of the market we walked through was the recycling section, where mainly the men worked. there was an area with lots of recycled plastic items and an area where people were working on used scraps of metal to reuse them.

the third part we explored was where the women were working and we some little kids were hanging around. they were making something called kocho! gashaw explained to us that there is a plant here that looks like a banana tree but grows no fruit, so they call it the false banana tree. they scrape out the trunk of the tree, cut up the fibers very small, dig a pit and line it with false banana leaves, add yeast and let it ferment for at least a month. after that it looks somewhat like cheese. it is then made into a flatbread and served with a raw meat dish called kitfo.

after the chaos of merkato, gashaw took us to chill out with some coffee at tomoca. it’s pretty popular here now and has a few locations, but tamoca was actually the very first coffee shop in addis. we got piping hot macchiatos and shared a few soft pastries. they were delicious!

after tomoca, we went up mount entoto for some views of the city. on the drive up, there were some interesting carvings on the side of the road.

a part of the way up to the lookout, we stopped to get out and see the beautiful hills. as we were taking pictures, pretty soon we realized we had gathered a crowd! a bunch of little kids that lived nearby saw the “ferengi” (or “foreigner” in amharic) and came to check us out. they followed us back to the car and then mom started playing peek-a-boo with a few of them. it was so fun watching them interact, the kids were so sweet.

after a few more minutes in the car, we finally got to the lookout. there were beautiful views of the city and giant fluffy clouds. it was so peaceful and just gorgeous. birds were chirping and breathing in the mountain air was so refreshing.

it was a great end to a great day.

peace out world. thanks for reading!

– maile šŸ™‚

What’s for dinner in Addis? Shiro and injera!

Food…Mmm food is never far from my thoughts. At home our meals are usually served with a staple of rice, pasta, bread, or potatoes. Here in Ethiopia, the staple is injera, a thick, sourdough crepe made from teff, the smallest grain in the world. This is rolled out on a plate and various dishes are served on top, then more injera is served rolled on the side of the plate from which you rip bite size chunks to dip into the other dishes to eat. No utensils, just your fingers and injera!

I love eating this way. There is something about direct contact with the food that makes you pay more attention to, connect more with, maybe even be more appreciative of the food you are eating.

Typically injera topped with one or more thick stews, or wats, and is served on a large platter and shared as a group, though it can also be served individually. We have been in shops mid-day when the guys working were sitting at the back sharing a platter of injera with rice and meat or shiro piled in the middle. (I haven’t yet had the guts to take a pic in one of those moments, though, so this is an “internet” picture!)

(Side commentary: It may sound weird, but we have a house helper. As a foreigner here you are expected to hire a helper. Part of the idea is that you, as a foreigner, are obviously wealthy and should do your part to give back to society by giving gainful employment to one or more individuals. Also, it just takes so much longer to accomplish daily tasks that I would do nothing but manage the kitchen if it weren’t for Menbi, the helper at this house.) Menbi was excited to show me how to make shiro and was very pleased that we enjoyed it when she made it for us before. I watched her last week and this week I get to make it. She said that I am Habasha (Ethiopian) today. šŸ˜Š

This delicious, simple dish starts with minced onions, adds berbere spice (a ubiquitous spicy red powder that is a blend of local spices) then water and shiro powder (chickpea flour). Bring all of that to a boil, add some salt (maybe bullion powder) and butter and you, my friend, have shiro! Some regions add other veggies, and some add meat, but this is the basic version and I am happy to enjoy it this way.

We made shiro wat (stew made of lentils) and other side veggies for a complete dinner. Yum!

IF we have leftovers, pieces of injera mixed with the shiro, called firfir, and an egg on top makes a delicious breakfast!

Just for fun, here is a YouTube video of the Simpsons having an experience with Ethiopian food.

https://youtu.be/77dkSeuvq2c

I haven’t made injera, and I don’t have a recipe for that, but I do have one for shiro!

Shiro Recipe
Ingredients:

  • 2 small onions, diced
  • Berbere spice mix
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 big scoops (Ā½ cup?) shiro (chickpea) powder
  • 1 or 2 Chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 T butter (can be more if you want)
  • Dash of black pepper

Directions:

  • In a large saucepan, cook with onions with oil over med heat for 5 minutes
  • Add 1-5 tablespoons berbere (depending on how spicy you want it, we used 1 Ā½), stirring and adding a little water to keep from burning, until berbere is cooked, about 10 minutes
  • Pour 6 cups of water into pan and bring to boil
  • Sprinkle shiro powder into pan and boil for five minutes.
  • Add bullion cube and bring to a boil again. Then taste and maybe add more. (We added a second)
  • Add the butter and a dash of black pepper if desired
  • Sprinkle shiro powder into pan and boil for five minutes.
  • Add bullion cube and bring to a boil again. Then taste and maybe add more. (We added a second)
  • Add the butter and a dash of black pepper if desired

Oh golly! Have I mentioned how much I love injera and shiro? No, really, I must find an injera supplier when I get home!

A Hard Day in Addis Ababa

We visited 2 government-run orphanages and a homeless “camp” here in Addis Ababa today.

Kibebe Tsehay Orphanage
The first facility was for newborn to 8-year old children. While apparently in far better condition than it was less than a year ago, the place was far from what that I’d consider conducive to raising thriving children. When we walked into the room where the infants stayed, I locked eyes with a 2-month old boy with big, beautiful eyes and a HUGE smile. About 30-seconds later, I looked at the dilapidated poster above his crib and realized that his name was the same one shared by my great-grandfather, my father, my son, and me: MATIAS. I was immediately reminded that I should feel nothing short of grateful for where I was born and raised. I left the room immediately to avoid breaking down right there and then.

We moved to another part of the facility and entered a room of 1- to 2-year olds. To our surprise, the children were already waiting for us–standing and facing the door expectantly. As soon as we walked in, one little boy rushed past all of us, latched onto Gabriel’s leg, and begged to be picked up. Gabriel hesitated, as doing so is rarely encouraged in these settings, but our local hosts gave him the green light. The boy’s eyes lit up like a Christmas Tree and he grinned from ear-to-ear. Within seconds, Marisa had two kids in her arms, and soon we were all surrounded by little humans craving affection. One little boy with a red, racing car hoodie leapt into my arms. As I picked him up, I noticed that his diaper was heavy and pants were damp. I didn’t even care. The boy did his best to communicate with me via pointing and gestures–I think he was trying to get me to give him a water bottle from atop one of the shelves. We eventually had to move on. I was the last one from our team to leave the room and will never forget seeing the disappointed little faces; and, even worse, hearing the children’s wailing screams as I backed out of the room.

Kechene Orphanage
We hopped back into our van and made our way down the road to the orphanage for 8- to 18 year-old girls. The living conditions were a little better than the first facility and a couple of the older girls seemed very well equipped to discuss and advocate for their needs as they faced aging out of the system and returning to the outside world to fend for themselves. Any sense of desperation was much more subtle than with the little children at the first orphanage. The mood changed quickly, however, when we started to leave. Suddenly, one of the girls latched herself to the van and did everything she could to prevent us from driving away. The girl was probably 14–the same age as my daughter–and we learned that she had recently named herself Julie in the effort to make herself more appealing to foreigners. She believed that foreigners would be more willing to help a girl with a Western name that only ate Western, not Ethiopian food. There was so much raw emotion–those 5 minutes felt like an eternity. As we began pulling away, I watched the older girls try to get Julie to put on a smile and wave politely to our team. In that moment, I said under my breath, “Julie, please keep fighting for yourself and don’t ever stop believing that your forever family is out there ready to fight for you, too.”

Lebu Homeless Camp
Our last visit was to a homeless camp filled with 100+ families living in 10’x10′ shelters made of corrugated sheet metal. On the outside, the conditions were pretty bleak. Dusty. No running water. Limited electricity. Raw sewage running down trenches in the middle of the dirt roads. However, we also saw some signs of hope. We meet a single mom with her children–both of whom are sponsored by our partners, AGCI. Because of the support received, the mother is able to keep the kids at home, send them to school, and also receive access to critical .medical assistance. She proudly welcomed us into her home and I was struck by how peaceful and even comfortable it was, all things considered.

šŸ“· @angelyn_lauderback

We ended the day with a nice Ethiopian dinner show. The food, drink, and entertainment was as good as I’d hoped, but it was difficult to think of anything else but Matias, the red hoodie boy, and Julie.