An Ethiopian Gastronomic Journey in Belgium I


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Food is a key to open the gate, on a delicious path way into another culture. My Ethiopian wanderlust takes me to a whole new world, yet again to explore and learn. Belgium is the destination and food is the tour guide into this rich culture and history.

To be specific and to take on my food adventure one detail at a time, FLEMISH REGIONAL DELIGHTS and CLASSICS which usually can be found on many local restaurant menus, gave me an exciting direction to start.

Of course for many people including me, the two world’s best treats jump to mind at the mention of Belgium: Chocolate and Beer. Obviously my gastronomic journey in Belgium instantly made me to realize that there is more to it.

Little local eateries where locals hangout is always my first choice to taste authenticity. For certain dishes, I was blessed enough to experience home cooking at typical Flemish household – Belgian food cooked with passion and love by a lovely family. I don’t know if I can get any closer to this rich culture than this.

As much as I believe Traveling expands your horizon, I am also an avid advocate that you don’t really need to actually go anywhere to learn about another culture. As I also love being transported into another world through travel books, cook books and travel shows.

While learning about another culture through food, ironically it seem, but I discover more about myself and the culture I grew up in. Ethiopian dishes are more inclined towards legumes, grains, certain vegetables and spices. Usually the spicier and the hotter the better for many Ethiopian taste palate.

As an Ethiopian, my taste bud is accustomed to earthy, spicy, sourish and very hot rather than very rich and creamy which I am actually experiencing here in Europe and which can be overwhelming at times. Obviously certain dishes I can’t really try like Chicory Ham Roll, because as an Ethiopian Orthodox religion devotee, Pork is not allowed to eat.

Of course when opportunities present themselves like this – actually be in Belgium in this case – I grab it fervently and try to be as present as possible to let the experience pass through me, leaving it’s cherished mark behind so I can always carry it with me and sharing it with the world in honoring my passion.

As a lover of caressing divine details, I couldn’t resist the temptation of visiting the chocolate museum in Brugge. The mesmerizing details and history behind this world’s delicious treat – from cacao beans to chocolate – nourished my soul as much as an extremely good Belgian Chocolate would.

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Another museum also dedicated to another gastronomic symbol of Belgium – Frites. Many of us knows this particular treat as French Fries, however the general idea which the name possibly indicates can be changed instantly after an authentic experience in Belgium – a land from where it is claimed to be originated.

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After visiting Friet Museum in Brugge, which beautifully caress the details and the origin of Belgian French Fries. After being at one of the local friture, which usually occupied by the locals and of course after savoring twice fried, perfectly crisp, full of flavor, comforting and aromatic friets cut into the size of lady finger and smothered with rich homemade mayonnaise as Belgians would… I couldn’t help to believe that Belgians owns it indeed.

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Sea Food is also an important part of Belgian cuisine as Belgium borders the sea. As an Ethiopian Sea Food is a whole new world to discover, it is not only because Ethiopia has been a landlocked country for the past 26 years, but also Ethiopian cuisine doesn’t really incorporate sea food except certain kind of fish usually Telapia from its great rift valley lakes dotted along the southern part of the country, Lake Tana and other lakes scattered around the country.

So on top of indulging my curiosity with Rick Stein’s Seafood Odyssey, I happily seized the opportunity to immerse myself on the sea food culture in Belgium.

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Mussels and prawns are popular and I was fortunate enough to enlighten my taste palate with home cooked hearty mussels by my Belgian husband. It made me feel like, I tasted the sea. The white wine in which the mussels cooked in and the parsley gave it another dimension.

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I learn different kinds of sauces are integral parts of Belgian cuisines. The green sauce that Belgians are known for is on top of my favorite list. What makes it even more interesting is the 12 herbs it is made of and the story behind it.

Paling in ‘t Groen (Eal in Green Sauce) is one of Flemish regional delights. Legend has it, this was one of the favorite dishes of Emperor Charles V. The very devout catholic Emperor insisted that 12 different kind of herbs being used in preparing this dish, 12 herbs representing each apostle.

The combination of different kinds of herbs – Mint, Parsley, springs of tarragon, Basil, Sage, Watercress, Chervil, Lemon balm, Sorrel, Bay leaf, Savory and Nettle (now replaced by Spinach) – gives it deep green color.

The smooth texture, greenish and earthy flavor in combination with perfectly cooked Eal, was divinely delicious.

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Smakelijk! And Dank uwel! – are two words, a traveler in a gastronomic journey in Belgium would quickly pick up.

To Be Continued…

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FILSETA: Ethiopian Feast Of Saint Mary The Virgin


Flseta Ethiopian Assumption Day 1

Ethiopian Orthodox religion devotees, commemorates a day which worldwide known as Assumption day, by fasting for 15 days (August 7 -21) which locally know as Tsome Filseta.

It is on the 16th day (August 22,2017), devotees break the fasting by a traditional feast with family and friends in the morning  after attending a soul nourishing and mesmerizing church service usually held throughout the night revering Saint Mary The Virgin.

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The day is also celebrated by unique Ethiopian tradition known as Ashenda.

Happy Holidays!

 

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Ethiopian New Year Song


A particular song about New Year, is an integral part of Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year) celebration in Ethiopia.

In giving homage to the coming New Year, which Ethiopia is going to welcome on September 11, 2017, I picked two cherished authentic moments captured on Ethiopian New Year’s Day from my Enkutatash compilation album to share it with the world in the following video.

For all New Beginnings!

Posted in Addis Ababa, Culture and Tradition, Ethiopia, Ethiopian Music, Events, New Year, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Bird Watching In Ethiopia I


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The landscape of Ethiopia is surprisingly diverse as being one of the countries from the horn of Africa.

The land of Ethiopia hosts from lush grass land, savanna, forest to desert. This diversity brings out abundance in bird life and made Ethiopia one of the 10 places for birding from Africa.

Ethiopia supports 850 spices and 37 endemic and near endemic birds which puts Ethiopia in the second place succeeding South Africa.

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The roof top of Africa –Ethiopia – is home to the highest mountain range in the continent. This magnificent creation of nature is not only feast for the eye, but also a convenient arena for the skillful, gracious and bearded vulture (Gypaetus Barbatus), also known as The Lammergeier.

A soul enticing spectacle Ethiopia hosts by The Lammergeier  – hovering above spectacular mountain range, patiently waiting for the scavengers clean out the bone, picking the bone swiftly, flying so high, looking for the sharpest rock, drop the bone, crush into pieces, softly landing and picking out the bone marrow.

Sundering the mountains is the great rift valley cuts through Ethiopia starting from Turkey is dotted with beautiful lakes like lake Hawassa, Zway, Shala and Langano to name the few.

Lakes which most supports different kinds of birds and indeed beautiful spots to witness outstanding spectacle of water birds in Ethiopia and the harmonies co-existence between animals and human.

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The capital city of Africa – Addis Ababa – still hosts quite a bit of birds in spite of the fact slowly turning into concrete jungle. Mingling with ordinary pigeons, The White – collared Pigeon – one of the beautiful endemic birds, which can only be spotted in Ethiopia and Eriteria. Either for an enthusiast birders or nature lovers, this particular bird most probably raise the curtain for the most fascinating bird life show in Ethiopia, on your first arrival in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia is a unique place where you can go back in time – where donkeys are beloved means of transportation, camels are desert ships, salt is being mined traditionally, fields are plowed by oxen, cattle are part of a family, and homes being constructed by plants collected from nearby so does bird’s nest – soul enlightening scene.

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Ethiopia is a warm vacation place for Palearctic migrants coming from all parts of the world – Asia north of Himalayas, Europe, Northern Arabia, and Africa north of Sahara: Old world Holarctic. While boreal winter pervades other parts of the world, the sun keeps shining in Ethiopia to make it the best time of year for birders and nature enthusiast alike.

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Ethiopia is the land of beauty. It is not only the landscape, the diversity, culture, history and the people that screams out beauty, it’s also proud owner of extremely beautiful, the world’s most sought after bird – The Spectacular Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco.

When it comes to birding, Ethiopia is considered one of the most convenient places in the world to easily see many species of birds. The beautiful Arabian Bustard (Jacques Erard), Von der Decken’s Hornbill – one of many northeast African endemics, The Lammergeier and so many more.

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For further information about Bird watching in Ethiopia and horn of Africa, I suggest the following three books.

Birding Ethiopia: I must say this particular book is more than a birding guide book for people who are planning to visit Ethiopia, it is also beautifully and thoughtfully designed to people who just want to be transported into another place from the comfort of their home.

 

Where to Watch Birds in Ethiopia: Another detailed guide book to the best birding sites in Ethiopia. One of the authors being an Ethiopian – Merid Gabremichael – is a definite plus as it gives an interesting feeling of being guided by a local.

 

Birds of the Horn of Africa: This book is for birders and ornithologists alike and covers not only Ethiopia but the horn of Africa.

 

 

As the first installment, this particular post is only a welcoming entry into The Bird Paradise – Ethiopia – which leads to a closer look at the Endemics and near endemics which I am blessed to witness, coming up on the next installment of Bird Watching in Ethiopia II.

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For the love of Birds!

Posted in Addis Ababa, Africa, Birds, Book, Ethiopia, Photo Essay, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

AFRICA: Search Explore Engage


As an African, It is always an honor to be part of a mission in promoting Africa to the world.

An exciting opportunity appeared and I grabbed it fervently, as it is an act of honoring my passion – unveiling the eloquent sides of Ethiopia and the exotic beauty of Africa to the world

The global S.E.E Africa Magazine is published by Afro Tourism based in Nigeria. The second edition features The Pearl of Africa – Uganda.

Ethiopia is also beautifully represented on page 102 by my article which entitled ETHIOPIA: Historical And Spiritual Tradition For The Soul.

“Supreme spiritual delight is a guarantee for all travelers around the world while visiting the cradle of humanity – Ethiopia. The sacredness of visiting Ethiopia lies on coming back Home – visiting the grandmother of all humanity – and being able to reconnect with source in the holiest place of Africa.”  

Grab your free digital copy and discover Africa!

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Happy Reading!

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Ethiopian Coffee: Little piece of Home


As an Ethiopian, to experience a little piece of home, making Ethiopian traditional coffee and roasted sweet corn for finding more comfort from home while living abroad is the best way to go.

While having coffee in Luxembourg, I couldn’t help to contemplate a profound saying which resonates with my soul like it has never been before. The author of The Man Within My Head, Pico Iyer says, “…home lies in the things you carry with you everywhere and not the ones that tie you down.”

Ethiopian Coffee and sweet corn

Being Ethiopian is finding home in Coffee!

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A Historic Italian Car in Ethiopia


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I love witnessing details – which make a county and its people – being caressed beautifully. There is definitely a fascinating history behind this particular car, which now placed inside Haile Resort lobby in Hawassa, Ethiopia.

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The story goes like this, as exactly as the car telling its history in Amharic and English languages,  beautifully placed next to it, for visitors to read.

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“It gives me great pleasure when I say Hello and Welcome to Haile Resort, Hawassa. I would like to share a short history of my long life! I was made in 1927, which means I am now around 87 years old. I came to Ethiopia from Italy with Italian soldiers seven years after I was made. I was serving the Italian soldiers. By the time Italian soldiers left Ethiopia, I was given to one of the Italian Banda of the time. Banda’s are Ethiopians loyal to Italians. The Banda I was serving from around Jimma area. I don’t remember his name now.

When Emperor Haile Selassie returned back from exile and restored order the Banda couldn’t use me, because if he does he will be identified as traitor. Therefore, I had to stay hidden in the backyard for about 33 years. After such a long time of ignorance, I was back at work again. That was during the great Ethiopian revolution of 1974. Soon afterwards I faced another obstacle; all my necessary documents were lost. Then it was illegal to use me, back to the backyard again.

At that moment, I had no hope of getting up again until someone special came across and brought back life to me. His name is Haile Gebresilassie, for me he is a saint sent from heaven to save my life. I was taken out of the cage. Most of my parts were much damaged and I had to repair them. For example my wheel and tires, my battery and doors were almost like they were not there. The man again invested a lot of money in me to change my look. Then he brought me here and I am now standing in front of you with pride enjoying the beautiful scene of Hawassa Lake from Haile Resort, the best place to be.  

Here I don’t miss every sunset. I am very thankful for the life I am living although deep inside I still wish I could run and jump like my younger days. But that seems just a mere wish. I feel better and important when people visit me, thank you for that. My history may be much longer than this, but because of my age these is what I can memorize at this moment. Thank you once again. Please, help me to live longer, don’t touch me.”    

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Giving Homage to Details!  

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