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  • Writer's pictureThe Linguistic Foodie

Addis Ababa Restaurant አዲስ አበባ ምግብ ቤት : Food that transports you to the capital of Ethiopia

Addis Ababa Ethiopian Restaurant, named for the bustling capital and biggest city of the African nation of Ethiopia, offers the perfect introduction to Ethiopian food. From the inviting atmosphere of the restaurant, the friendly staff, and the delicious food, Addis Ababa has marked itself as the perfect place to have a great Ethiopian meal in Rochester.

The Sambusa

Immediately, I was surprised at the amount of vegetarian/vegan options. Not only is Ethiopian food healthy, but it can very easily be catered to anyone whether they are vegan or gluten free. To start off, I chose the classic option: the sambusa ሳምቡሳ. The sambusa is related to the Indian samosa, but I actually preferred the sambusa over the samosa. It consists of a super crispy fried pastry shell and you could choose to have it filled with either lentils or beef. I had it with lentils and it was incredibly tasty (arguably the highlight of the meal). The lentils were flavorful and the shell was crispy, I could probably gulf down like 10 of these!

For my main meal, I chose to have the vegetarian platter so that I could taste as many things as possible. The vegetarian platter consisted of Miser ምስር (spicy split red lentil stew), Ater አተር (split pea stew), Dinech Wot ድንች ወጥ (potato stew), Gomen ጎመን (collard greens), Tikel Gomen (cabbage), and fassolia ፋሶሊያ (green beans & carrots). I also chose to order the Shiro ሽሮ (spiced chickpea stew).

My plate consisting of the vegetarian platter, resting on a bed of injera

Everything came with a large quantity of injera እንጀራ: the staple of Ethiopian cuisine. Injera (see to the right) is a sour fermented flatbread with a spongy texture. Ethiopian food is supposed to be eaten with each side dish and vegetable on top of the injera and the injera is eaten with each vegetable dish. Overall, the food was incredibly tasty and delicious and eating it was an unforgettable experience. The flavors and textures of each of the dishes were each distinct but blended perfectly to create a wonderful meal. My favorites were the dinech wot because I loved the potatoes and the shiro because of the warm, comforting spice of the stew.

Eating Ethiopian food also presents the perfect opportunity to learn about Ethiopian languages, as the dishes stem from Ethiopian words and language. Many of these are from the language of Amharic, which is the lingua franca of Ethiopia, is a Semitic language, and uses the Ge'ez script. Ethiopia is a huge and diverse country with many many different languages. There are many other languages spoken across the country that have millions of speakers. See this great article about Ethiopian languages:

From the article:

"The Semitic languages are spoken primarily in the northern and central parts of the country. These include Ge’ez (an ancient language written from left to right unlike other Semitic languages), the Ge’ez descendent modern Tigrigna, and Amharic (Amharigna) which is the official national language of Ethiopia. Nearly 22 million people speak Amharic as their first language in Ethiopia and it has over 4 million second-language speakers.

The Cushitic languages are spoken in central, southern and eastern Ethiopia. These are spoken largely by the Oromo, Somali , Beja , Sidamo and Afar people. The Oromo language (Afaan Oromoo) is the most widely spoken language in Ethiopia with an estimated 34 million speakers. The Omotic languages are predominantly spoken between the Lakes of southern Rift Valley and the Omo River. The Omotic languages include the Dorze, Gamo-Gofa, Hammer-Banna and Welaytta languages.

The Nilo-Saharan languages are largely spoken in the western part of the country mainly in Gambella and Benshangul regions. These include the Anuak, Gumuz, Mursi, Nuer, Nyangatom and Suri languages."

However, Ethiopia is home to 45 endangered languages and many of them have already gone extinct. These languages are vital to Ethiopian culture and tradition. One of these languages is called Ongota with only 12 remaining speakers. Learn more here:

ደህና ሁን!

-The Linguistic Foodie :)

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