Simply Said, “Ethiopia!”

I have to admit I knew very little about Ethiopia before deciding I wanted to go there. And, I love Africa. I have been several times, beginning in 1994 and twice in recent years. Each time it enriches my life but still Ethiopia never registered on my radar as a destination I’d consider visiting.

In my adult years I knew of its Rastafarian connection with Jamaica and in my youth its history with famine was in the news; photos of babies with distended bellies on the cover of National Geographic. Still, the famine is the first thing people mention when I say I am travelling there and I have to admit it bothers me because we are more than the stereotypes we encounter. My many travels have introduced me to the warmth of a people, the splendours of geography and distinct and unique culture. So with this curiosity I have come to love many places I have travelled to, often ones people never consider. It has changed my life for the better.

I am excited about the prospect of Ethiopia, I am sure I will be able to add it to my favourite destination list and I cannot wait to share it with you. Perhaps you might even add it to your bucket list!

I grew up in a small city an hour from Toronto, Canada and in the 1970s and 1980s I stood out in a population of 60,000 people. There were very few mix raced or “brown” people. My parents knew it wasn’t easy and embraced the importance of introducing my siblings and I to other ethnicities. What a great job they did! They did so through travel, multicultural festivals, books and food. They even sent away to Detroit for a black “Barbie.”

The Family Munschkins 2009

The Family Munschkins 2009


And with this quest we ventured into multiethnic foods. My earliest memory was our patronage of an Afghani restaurant near our home; we must have been their best customers. It was so unfortunate when later our weekly visits just couldn’t subsidize it. In my later teen years my father took me to an Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto and I was hooked. Since then Ethiopian food has taken the lead away from Mexican as my favourite. So, I say, enough with the famine jokes, bring on the treadmill wherever possible while I’m there and fingers crossed I don’t come back heavier than when I left.

“Ethiopian cuisine characteristically consists of spicy vegetable and meat dishes, usually in the form of wat (or wot), a thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread, which is about 50 centimeters (20 inches) in diameter and made out of fermented teff flour. Ethiopians eat with their right hands, using pieces of injera to pick up bites of entrées and side dishes. Utensils are rarely used with Ethiopian cuisine.”

Enter Mohammed, the owner of Ethiopian House on Irwin Street in Toronto. I have been eating there for years and it is my preferred Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto. It was obvious to me that the next step for me was to find my inner Ethiopian Julia Child so I set off to Kensington Market in Toronto; a great downtown find with its street festivals, multiethnic shops, organic grocery stores and fresh produce/meat. In my attempt of what I deemed a far-fetched endeavour I ventured into Ethiopian Spices and went for it. I purchased the injera, spices, cheese for the salad and Ethiopian clarified butter. I found and followed recipes and surprisingly created an edible meal, good in fact; but just not Mohammed’s food.

Years passed, I still have all my spices and a few months ago I began planning my next trip for my blog. Over the past few years it has come to my attention that Ethiopian Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, also Air Canada’s. My Ethiopian scratch began to itch.

In the forefront of my mind, Morocco, in the recesses, Ethiopia. And just like that, one day my mind was made up. I was in a taxi in Toronto this past June, recognized my taxi driver of being Ethiopian descent and we began to discuss his homeland. I mentioned that Ethiopian food is my favourite and he in turn asked me if I knew that Ethiopian Airlines was beginning their new direct, nonstop flight to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa on July 17th. Serendipity!

As I write this I am enjoying my upgrade to first class on Ethiopian Airlines’ direct flight to Addis Ababa. I’ve got a lot more to come, hope you’ll enjoy the ride!

Thinking about travelling to Africa? Check out the DIRTY DETAILS.

Question: In the history of my travels I can’t remember wanting to visit a destination because of its food. Have any of you? If so, I can’t wait to hear about it. Please share.


3 Responses to Simply Said, “Ethiopia!”

  1. Can’t say that I’ve ever be driven to travel for the food, but I normally end up returning with evidence that I consumed too much! Looking forward to following your adventures!

    Chantal September 14, 2012 at 7:52 AM Reply
  2. C’est du bonheur de visiter ce site web

    Dacia June 14, 2014 at 1:22 AM Reply

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