Bruges, Christmas Market and Brussels Waffle.
Bruges, Christmas Market and Brussels Waffle.
My Ethiopian gastronomic journey here in Luxembourg City, presents yet another delicious and full of character treat on my plate.
“This magical, marvelous food on our plate, this sustenance we absorb, has a story to tell. It has a journey.” Joel Salatin
In celebration of stories behind a particular dish.
Winter Lights Luxembourg through my lens.
to be continued…
Hidar is the third month of a yearly Ethiopian calendar which contains thirteen months. It’s a month when the spirit of new beginning celebration gives away to the anticipation and preparation of the coming big events and celebrations – Genna (Ethiopian Christmas), Wedding Season and Timket (Ethiopian Epiphany) to name the few.
It’s that time of year, when the memorable seasonal flowers fading ways. mud replaced by dust, rainy days replaced by strong sun, fountains clearing up and start reducing.
In Ethiopia religion is the soul and religious celebration is culture. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church dedicates each day of the month to particular saints, angels, martyrs, apostles and to the Lord.
Even though the scope of these celebrations varies, it definitely kindles a unique vibe almost every day. These less known religious celebrations which seem reserved for locals, interestingly puzzles tourists who follows guide books fervently, makes a day of a tourist who’s tour guide is serendipity for unique experience practiced by locals, makes some getting used to for expats because of early morning prayers sounded from the church and unexpected traffic, reminds a particular date for locals (devotees or not) and for the Ethiopian orthodox religion devotees these days mean more obviously.
From an early morning Divine Liturgy sounded from the churches to devotees flocks to the church wearing white. Colorfully decorated churches with flags and goods being sold outside the church – from candles to fresh cut grass – all are the eloquent details which makes up a unique scene of this kind of religious celebrations. It’s more pronounced for the annual celebrations of a particular date which can happen twice a year.
The twelfth day of each Ethiopian month is dedicated by The Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church to commemorate the Archangel St. Michael. The Annual celebration takes place On Hidar 12 (November 21) and Sene 12 (June 19).
According to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, feast days remembers a particular event from the holy bible or other written books with miracles performed by a particular angel or saint. Thus the annual feast of The Archangel St. Michael on Hidar 12 (November 21) is specifically in remembrance of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt with the help of the angel according to the church.
St. Michael (Kidus Mikael in Amharic) is believed to be the head of heavenly host, who stands beside the throne of God, guardian of the soul of saints and martyrs and interceding on behalf of human.
The paintings of St. Michael in the Orthodox churches of Ethiopia, portrays the angel beautifully as the commander of angels wearing graceful worrier attire with sparkling long sword on his hand.
In addition to the Holy Bible, there is a holy book which contains the miracles of St. Michael which devotees revere fervently and believe the continuation of these kinds of miracles to happen in their own life because of the interceding.
On the annual feast of the archangel St. Michael a special mass held at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church dedicated by the angels name. The replica of Ark of the Covenant taken from the Holy of Holies and presented to the procession inside the church compound. Mentioning the miracles The Archangel St. Michael operated in prayers, sermons and hymns which inspires women’s joyous and celebratory ululate.
There is a common ritual practiced by the devotees in order to commemorate, worship and give thanks. Ethiopian traditional home baked round bread – Difo Dabo, roasted barley – Kolo and traditional home brewed beer- Tella in the name of St. Michael are being prepared and shared with family, loved ones and even with fellow devotees in the church as an offer that can’t be refused as it is consider to be sharing a blessing.
The other ritual is neighbors getting together forming a group in the name of a particular angel or saint in commemorating together. The ritual involves the group to come together in one of the group’s house for the feast in rotation.
This particular group formed to commemorate and share the feast together locally known as Ye Tswa Mahber which includes collections of miniatures as a movable shrine – paintings of a particular angel or saint they choose to commemorate specifically and the Holy Trinity and St. Mary.
A traditional small clay pot and straw weaved basket, covered with colorful costume. The clay pot contains Tella (home brewed beer) and the basket contains pieces of bread as a representation of the holly blood and flesh. The collection of miniatures moves from one household to the other. The next host receives it and keeps it at the household until the next month get together in celebration to commemorate.
Where religion and tradition intertwined, witnessing and being mesmerized by unique practices of particular society is a guarantee. These rituals are more than compilation of mundane details, rather the electrifying energy around it is powerful enough to shine a light on the opaqueness of everything is connected and permeate with the universe.
This very humbling journey, specifically took place in the west Flanders of Belgium, dotted with cemeteries and memorials – reminder of FIRST WORLD WAR. The obvious destination of this particular journey was Ypres, to be part of a humbling ceremony of the Last Post which has been sounded every evening since 1928 at the Menin memorial gate.
The 600,000 small statues in the installation are a tribute to 600,000 victims of the FIRST WORLD WAR. The art installation symbolizes the rebirth of a hopeful desire for a new and more peaceful world.
The journey continued to Tyne Cot Memorial, which is the largest cemetery for common wealth force in the world. It’s the resting place of more than 11,900 soldiers of the British Empire from First World War in the Ypres Salient and memorial to the missing.
It was one of those moments, when life presents a chance to stand on hallowed ground. It’s a moment of grace, which shines a light on the illusion of reality and reflects the ephemeral of life. It’s a moment which literally forces us to ask profound questions like who we really are and what really matters.
“When death is denied, life loses its depth. The possibility of knowing who we are beyond names and form, the dimension of the transcendent, disappears from our lives because death is the opening into that dimension.” Eckhart Tolle
The last destination of this journey was Ieper (by its Flemish name). It’s a beautiful medieval town, once the battle fields of Ypres Salient and now home to the eye grabbing Menin memorial gate.
The gracious gate is a mausoleum that honors, by memorably inscribed names of 54,395 soldiers, who died in the Ypres Salient but whose bodies have never been found or identified on the wall.
After visiting the main attractions of Ypres (Ieper), waiting patiently along with other visitors to attend the Last Post ceremony at 8 p.m. in one of the coffee shops around the gate probably a common and interesting scene to be witnessed at Ypres.
Once the reminiscent sound of the Last Post started, you cannot help experiencing a moment of grace freeing from the illusion of reality, to be aware of your own mortality, to be open enough to channel the energy of the healing power of redemptive death and to realize a cosmic urge of letting it guide your life on earth for a greater purpose.
At last, I would like to leave you once again with another profound quote from a book called Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle “To every accident and disaster there is a potentially redemptive dimension that we are usually unaware of.”
Awareness and peace to the world.
The Dutch word Grietfilet which simply means Brill fillet but for me it’s a reminder of how living my life in different and interesting places can be a very humbling experience – from figuring out what’s on the menu to learning how to order food from a scratch because it’s different language and things work differently from place to place.
Food is an experience indeed and usually the meal we have comes with interesting stories which is going to turn into memories if we are present enough to honor the details and savor the meal.
künefe obviously reminds me Istanbul (Turkey) as Tiramisu can take me back to Venice (Italy). Well in Belgium I usually tend to go for La Dame Blanche as it’s a classic Belgian dessert which usually reminds me that I am in chocolate world because of its special warm chocolate sauce served with Vanilla ice cream and whipped cream to be drizzled up on.
On one sunny but chilly and windy Autumn Sunday afternoon, a family gathered in a local restaurant with private dining party rooms in Zuienkerke – the municipality of four villages in west Flanders – to celebrate 50th marriage anniversary. The home feel like cozy restaurant with big beautiful garden is where locals not only wine and dine but celebrate big occasions like marriage or birthday with family and friends and goes by the name of De Grote Stove (The Big Stove).
Besides children, grandchildren and in-laws, the Mayor of the municipality honored the ceremony by reading short overview of how these two souls meet somewhere a nearby Brugge (Bruges) and their journey together so far to reach this monumental golden year of marriage.
Obviously food is a powerful key to connect people, the family gather in one big dining table to share a meal in celebration of love somewhere in West Flanders and this is when Grietfilet happened to be on my table and forever to be remembered.
The flatfish with dark brown skin cooked to perfection to savor its white, creamy and sweet underside with a good bite of its firm texture. The savory sauce with hand peeled Belgian grey shrimps and mushroom takes this dish to the next level. The comforting and creamy mash potato definitely complemented this divine experience of this particular meal energized with beautiful memories and good times with family.
And this is a tribute to Food and Memories.
Few days before the flooding in Venice happened, I was wandering around in this full of character and memorable city. And this is how I remember Venezia (Venice).