I think, as third world countries go, Ethiopia is alright. Despite what you might think, there is plenty of food (for those who can afford it) and not necessarily of the tin canned variety. There is a ton of fresh fruit and veggies…the tomatoes here outdo the ol’ hothouse tomatoes from Canada any day.
My mom has been here to visit and she says the beef tastes funny. It’s uber-fresh and doesn’t get the same hanging treatment like it does in Canada. Well, unless hanging outdoors while it waits to be sold counts. And goats and sheep and chickens? Those are really really fresh! They even walk home with you.
There are a lot of restaurants but I often feel like the food is a close attempt at lasagna or chicken cordon bleu or whatever the special may be. And it’s often a disappointment. Unless, of course, you visit Effoi…the finest pizza in town! Which could easily rival any chain outlet in the West.
Cooking at home can be a bit of a challenge because it has to be from scratch. Does anyone even make their own pasta sauce in Canada anymore? That jar stuff is pretty tasty and oh-so-convenient. Whenever I go back to Canada, my favourite thing to do is go grocery shopping. After being away for a while, the very first time I step into a Save-On, my eyes well up. For serious. The amount of food, the availability, the options. I really feel overwhelmed and a bit stunned. But truly, it’s a lot of junk! I bought canned whipped cream when I was there. Had it with tapioca pudding. Pure gluttony. I can’t even imagine what would happen to me now that I’m pregnant. I would be a loyal customer of Dairy Queen, that’s for sure.
But what I miss most is meals with family and friends. Cooking and eating out can be fairly lonely for me. The husband is home on occasion for dinner but mostly it’s me and the munchkin, which doesn’t exactly provide stimulating dinner conversation, although I do love her babbling stories! Meals at holiday times are an event here but I find really connecting with people quite difficult. Conversation beyond news and work doesn’t exist. One of the last meals before I left Canada in May was at my Aunty Linda’s. She tried out a new recipe…with love! It was barbecued chicken with this yogurty basil tomato sauce stuff on top. I mean, doro wat (aka spicy chicken stew) is something to look forward to at the aunt-in-law’s house, but it’s often made by the maid currently employed there. Where’s the love?
Quite possibly, I have trouble connecting with people and family here because of my terrible and underdeveloped Amharic. Still, after four years, these relationships feel unnatural. Beyond my need for good food, I crave easiness with people. Some day I’ll get back there.