Many of my friends get this glazed look in their eyes whenever Ethiopian food is mentioned. “I love Ethiopian food,” they say in a dreamy voice as they recall past culinary ecstasy. You can see their mouths begin to salivate, and then you can see them take a cold, hard swallow when I declare my firm opinion that Ethiopian food is stupid. It’s not that I don’t want to like Ethiopian food. I find the idea of writing of an entire country’s cuisine to be unpalatable, especially when its food receives such high acclaim. But, after many meals of rubbery ijnera bread and boring stews containing overcooked sulfuric eggs, I resigned myself to the idea that Ethiopian food was not for me. That is, until yesterday night, when I had a delightful meal at Addis Red Sea, a new Ethiopian restaurant in Cambridge.
Daunted by the unfamiliar menu, I opted for a combination platter of Doro Wot (chicken stewed in red pepper sauce) and the three vegetarian dishes that the waitress recommended. The Doro Wot was delicious, with tender lemony chicken and a spicy sauce. One of the vegetable dishes was a preparation of collard greens that would rival that from the finest southern kitchen. Their spicy lentils were lovely, and had a completely different flavor from the chicken. But, probably the most impressive was the injera, which was light and flavorful, a perfect vessel to enjoy all the sauces.
I am thrilled that I no longer need to snub Ethiopian food. Usually, I hate being wrong, but in this case I am glad to retract everything negative I’ve said about Ethiopian cuisine (including an unfortunate joke I once made questioning whether they had food in Ethiopia). I plan to rush back to Addis Red Sea and happily eat a humble pie of this delicious cuisine.