The Little Injera that Could

Remember the children’s book called “The Little Engine that Could?” A train story about muster, optimism and an “I think I can” attitude.  My Ethiopian Night of Cooking was nothing shy of hard work and having an “I think I can” disposition-especially making Injera bread. This little staple of a naan kind of tortilla for the Ethiopian family is what holds the entire meal together.

My newest collection cookbook, given to me by my friend Ann, called “The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors-Recipes you should have gotten from your grandmother” by Jeff Smith, is the impetus for my international whirlwind cooking trip for the family. First stop-ETHIOPIA!

The scope of what I know about Ethiopian food, culture and tradition is not much. If you are old enough to remember this country’s 80’s famine, then you cannot forget the images of starvation and death. It was a torrid time, a big part due to civil and political unrest. Yes, the drought-like conditions did contribute to food shortages -what seemed like the perfect storm- drought and internal war = famine and strife. Today that story is not the end. There is a historical and cultural account for a people rich in self-determination and self-preservation, an “I think I can” attitude. For my family, we are thankful for the Ethiopian community and their contributions to our very small world.

Take for instance, something like Injera bread. This crepe-spongy like bread is the staple of every Ethiopian meal.  It is made with the tiniest cereal grain-teff. Ethiopians say it is the stuff of life. All bread, no matter the culture, is the stuff of life. Grab that Injera bread, pick up the wat (stew) and take in all the spices. If you want to be a true Ethiopian-feed your eating buddy by placing the filled injera bread in his mouth.

The picture above shows my lentil, injera and wat project.  It took no less than 5 hours to prepare. If you really want an adventure, plan the day to shop for spices, find the best Ethiopian coffee and then at the end of your cooking project, feast on the smells and tastes of a real Ethiopian meal. But if you are like my daughter this is what she did:

When My Mom is Cooking I don’t help, I just sit at the table like this-

“I think I can, I think I can…”


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