Here’s the latest from my mom in Ethiopia.
It’s hard to describe our Sunday afternoon experience. We had been invited to lunch with a lovely Ethiopian lady named “Light.” Petite, charming, and polite to a fault, Light works at the “Mossy Foot” clinic in what I would describe as a social worker position. She spoke very good English and was so happy to have us come to her home. We walked with her on a hilly, potholed road (accompanied by many children) to her modest one-room apartment.
Her apartment is perhaps 8 by 12 feet with no windows, only a front door. A curtain divides her “bedroom” from the living room, which has a low table surrounded by several chairs. She seats the 6 visitors very graciously, insisting that “the parents” have the 2 most comfortable chairs; the 2 teenagers sit on low wooden stools. Everything for the meal has been prepared, and we are blessed to eat delicious Ethiopian food, Ethiopian style. Injera is the pancake-like food that accompanies Ethiopian meals, and is utilized for bringing the food from plate to mouth. No silverware at all! You just tear off a piece of injera and pick up your food with it. Those who are accustomed to eat in this manner use only one hand. I wish I could remember the names of the various dishes we enjoyed. Sophie would know. There was a cabbage dish, tomatoes with onions in a dressing, an egg dish, and something spicy that looked like refried beans.
Light has no stove in her house; she cooks on a charcoal grill just outside her front door. Also no running water; she had purchased bottled water, which she served to us in small glasses. The high point of the afternoon was the “coffee ceremony” which followed the meal. Green coffee beans were given to Kara and McKenzie, with the request that they sort through them. They picked out little stray things and blew off the “chaff.” Light then washed the beans, back and forth from hand to hand. When the charcoal grill was ready, she placed the green coffee beans on a metal concave dish over the grill. The beans needed constant stirring, and gradually turned a deep brown-black color and began to smell like rich coffee. At the end she added whole cloves. When roasted to her satisfaction, she produced the coffee grinder, which was a piece of hard wood about 6 inches in diameter with the core hollowed out to make a deep well. The grinder part (hammer) was a solid metal rod about an inch in diameter, maybe 15 inches long. In went the roasted coffee beans, and Tanden began the grinding process. Soon Light took over, and attacked it with such vigor that we were worried she would hurt her hand. She assured us with a smile that she never had yet!
While water was heating over the charcoal, she spooned ground, roasted coffee into a stone pot, then poured the boiling water into the coffee pot where it steeped for a few minutes. The small cups in which she served us coffee were the size of espresso cups. She put a teaspoon of sugar in each cup before she poured in the coffee. Grounds that came out when she poured settled into the bottoms of our cups. I don’t like coffee, but this was wonderful. Ron usually drinks his coffee very weak, and this was strong, but he said it was the best strong coffee he’d ever had. It really tastes nothing like regular American coffee. She served it with popcorn, an Ethiopian tradition. When it was time to leave, she gave each of us the typical Ethiopian hello or goodbye greeting, which is a right handshake followed by touching of right shoulders and a pat on the back with the left hand. Those who are friends rather than just acquaintances kiss cheeks: one cheek, the other, then back to the first. The goodbye ritual was observed at the doorway of her house, and then again when she parted with us partway home. Whew!!
This evening we had soup supper with the same people we worshipped with this morning, plus the new crew of 8 or 9 young people from the Netherlands. After our meal, which was served in a lovely gazebo-like outdoor building with a grass roof, a young Dutchman produced a guitar and we sang choruses for a while.