Food and Drinks


The national dish for most Ethiopians is injera, a flat, sour dough pancake made from a special grain called teff, which is served with either meat or vegetable sauces. Ethiopians eat these injera by tearing off a bit of injera and uses it to pick up pieces of meat or mop up the sauce. Berbere, the blend of spices which gives Ethiopian food its characteristic taste can be hot for the uninitiated, although vindaloo or hot curry fans will not have any problem.

When eating national food Ethiopians eat together, off one large circular plate. Visitors and guests will have choice morsels and pieces of meat placed in front of them, and when eating doro wot, chicken stew, the pieces of meat are eaten last, after filling up on injera and sauce. You eat with your right hand, and should always wash your hands before eating.

Vegetarians should try "fasting food", what Orthodox Christians eat during Lent and other fasting periods, and which is free of meat and animal products.

Ethiopia produces its own wines - Dukam and Goudar are two good, dry reds. Crystal is a dry white wine and Axumite is a sweet red - and spirits, like gin, ouzo and brandy. There are also traditional alcoholic beverages such as tela (a local beer made from grain), tej (honey wine or mead) and kati kala (distilled liquor).

Restaurant prices can vary from 3 birr in the cheaper restaurants to around 25 to 30 birr per head in a restaurant with national music and dancing. Prices do not generally include drinks.

Coffee



The story of coffee has its beginnings in Ethiopia, the original home of the coffee plant, coffee arabica, which still grows wild in the forest of the highlands. While nobody is sure exactly how coffee as a beverage came about, it is believed that its cultivation and use began as early as the 9th century.

Coffee Arabica, first discovered in the 'Kaffa' region (from which the name coffee is derived) in south western Ethiopia, grows wild in many regions of the country and has been used by Ethiopians for many years as a food, a beverage and a medicine. It now accounts for 65% of all export earnings.

Produced using three very distinctive methods - (the forest system, the small farm or cottage system and the plantation system) - Ethiopian coffee has earned itself a reputation as one of the finest, most flavourful coffees in the world. The forest system means coffee grows under a forest canopy and needs very little human interference. The small farm or cottage system is the most popular method for producing coffee in Ethiopia - in fact this method is responsible for 95% of all coffee production. The cottage system consists of small backyard gardens with a few coffee trees, which are harvested by hand. There are presently some 700,000 coffee smallholders who produce coffee in this way. The final method of production is the plantation system, which is becoming increasingly popular. This is farming on a larger scale using modern processing equipment and ensures more quality assurance advantages.

Dilla, the capital of Gedoa in southern Ethiopia is the home of some of the finest coffee plantations. Seven years ago there were only 33 industrial units for processing coffee in Dilla, now there are 200.
thiopia is the home of coffee. An intricate traditional coffee ceremony is performed in many households. This may also be seen in most of the larger hotels in Addis Ababa. The time devoted to the ceremony indicates how important the drink is to Ethiopians.

At the start of the ceremony a table is scattered with freshly-cut grass to give the fresh and fragrant scent of outdoors. A female attendant or the lady of the household sits on a low stool beside a charcoal brazier. She first lights a stick of incense to provide the right atmosphere. Guests are given a snack such as popcorn whilst the ceremony is proceeding. The green coffee beans are roasted in a pan and then ground with a pestle and mortar. Then the pot for boiling the coffee is produced, a round clay pot with a plump base and a long narrow neck and spout. After the water has been heated the coffee is added and brought to the boil. The coffee is poured into small, traditional cups and sugar is added. The coffee has a full-bodied flavour but it is not itself bitter.

Festival and Holidays Timkat - The Feast of Epiphany


This is the greatest festival of the year, falling on 19 January, just two weeks after the Ethiopian Christmas. It is actually a three-day affair, beginning on the Eve of Timkat with dramatic and colourful processions. The following morning the great day itself, Christ's baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist is commemorated. The third day is devoted to the Feast of St. Michael, the archangel, one of Ethiopia's most popular saints.

Since October and the end of the rains, the country has been drying up steadily.
The sun blazes down from a clear blue sky and the Festival of Timkat always takes place in glorious weather.
Enormous effort is put into the occasion. Tej and tella (Ethiopian mead and beer) are brewed, special bread is baked, and the fat-tailed African sheep are fattened for slaughter.Gifts are prepared for the children and new clothes purchased or old mended and laundered.
Everyone men, women, and children appears resplendent for the three-day celebration. Dressed in the dazzling white of the traditional dress, the locals provide a dramatic contrast to the jewel colours of the ceremonial velvets and satins of the priests' robes and sequinned velvet umbrellas.
On the eve of the 18 January, Ketera, the priests remove the tabots from each church and bless the water of the pool or river where the next days celebration will take place. It is the tabot (symbolising the Ark of the Covenant containing the Ten Commandments) rather than the church building which is consecrated, and it is accorded extreme reverence. Not to be desecrated by the gaze of the layman, the engraved wooden or stone slab is carried under layers of rich cloth.

In Addis Ababa, many churches bring their tabots to Jan Meda (the horse racing course of imperial day) accompanied by priests bearing prayer sticks and sistra, the ringing of bells and blowing of trumpets, and swinging bronze censors from which wisps of incense smoke escape into the evening air. The tabots rest in their special tent in the meadow, each hoisting a proud banner depicting the church's saint in front. The priests pray throughout the long cold night and mass is performed around 2:00 a.m. Huge crowds of people camp out, eating and drinking by the light of flickering fires and torches.

Towards dawn the patriarch dips a golden cross and extinguishes a burning consecrated candle in the altar. Then he sprinkles water on the assembled congregation in commemoration of Christ's baptism. Many of the more fervent leap fully dressed into the water to renew their vows.

Following the baptism the tabots start back to their respective churches, while feasting, singing and dancing continue at Jan Meda. The procession winds through town again as the horsemen cavort alongside, their mounts handsomely decorated with red tassels, embroidered saddlecloths, and silver bridles. The elders march solemnly, accompanied by singing leaping priests and young men, while the beating of staffs and prayer sticks recalls the ancient rites of the Old Testament.

Id-Al-Adha -Festival of Sacrifice


Eid al-Adha or "Festival of Sacrifice" or "Greater Eid" is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims all over the world to commemorate the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to sacrifice his son Ishmael (Isma'il) as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a ram to sacrifice instead. The meat is divided into three parts: the family retains one third of the share, another third is stored and the other third is given to the poor and needy. Eid al-Adha is the latter of two Eid festivals celebrated by Muslims, the first being Eid ul-Fitr. Like Eid ul FitrEid, al-Adha begins with a prayer followed by a sermon. Eid al-Adha is celebrated annually on the 10th day of the 12th and the last Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah of the lunar Islamic calendar. Eid al-Adha celebrations start after the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia by Muslims worldwide. The date is approximately 70 days (2 Months and 10 days) after the end of the month of Ramadan. Ritual observance of the holiday lasts until sunset of the 13th day of Dhu al-Hijjah

Victory of Adwa