A Taste of Ethiopia

I’ve never had a dining experience that was also a spiritual experience.   In Ethiopia, every meal is a spiritual experience, a time for giving thanks and basking in the warmth of your loved ones.  Essentially every day, every meal, is Thanksgiving.

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When we arrived at St. Yared’s, a new-ish Ethiopian restaurant in town, we had no idea what to expect.   The most soft-spoken, kind man, who was also the owner, immediately greeted us and began to speak of the history of Ethiopian culture and dining.

Serving up only the most authentic cuisine, Haile the owner, and his wife who is the chef, have their spices and special ingredients shipped to them by family members in Ethiopia.  They have opted out of advertising the restaurant in any way, as their tremendous success has left them to wonder if their next shipments will arrive in time to accommodate all of the visitors.  That to me is a great sign, and I couldn’t wait to place my order.

I started off with a warm cup of tea to sip on as we made up our minds.  I ended up going for the Vegetarian Platter so I could get a good variety, while the others went for the Meat Platter.

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With our orders in, Haile continued to give us a walking tour of the restaurant, explaining the various artworks, photographs, and cultural significance of various items.  His passion for his homeland and the space they have lovingly created in the US were contagious.

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Everything about the meal was new and exciting.  The flavors were slightly reminiscent of some Indian dishes I’ve had, but still completely unique.  Using their traditional pancake/crepe-like bread Injera to scoop up the meal instead of silverware made for such a fun experience.  And the flavor combos created by the slightly tangy Injera with the warm, spicy vegetables were phenomenal!

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I was absolutely stuffed to my limits when Haile returned to offer up bite-size tiramisu (look, even in an Ethiopian post everything goes back to Italy!) and wedding cookies.   I put up a good fight, but who are we kidding?  There’s always room for desert.

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It will only be a matter of  time before we head back to St. Yared’s.  Such an incredible meal and experience.  Anyone in the area absolutely has to give it a try!

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