Sunday, August 28, 2011

I am currently on the road to a summer camp meant to teach and encourage leadership roles to youth. The objectives of this camp is to stir up a few kids with ideas of how to improve their community's health and environment. There are over 30 kids from the Oromo and SNNPR regions of Ethiopia attending and close to just as many staff members. This is a really cool opportuninuty for Ethiopian kids to see their country, learn about ways one can improve living conditions, and partake in a cultural exchange with the many Americans that will be facilitating the program. Impressions so far have only spawned from the time traveling to camp but this I am sure of: I will be tired by the end of it. The photo above was taken in Bedele, looking at the main intersection in town from the 3rd story of a hotel building. If you've ever drank imported beer at an Ethiopian restaurant, you might have drank Bedele beer. The label has a small skunk-like monkey on it. The brewery gives tours on thursdays.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Making & Breaking Bread

Today I introduced my friends and neighbors to rosemary onion bread. I was able to use one of the large earthen ovens without charge and it turned out really well considsing it vanished before it had a chance to cool. A couple months from now I plan to build a small oven on my compound so I can bake bread on the weekends and have pizza with my neighbors (I have yet to find a local source for cheese). Food is shared almost always between people in Ethiopian culture, to the point that it is considered rude to eat in front of someone and not encourage sharing that food being eaten. In the smaller towns, such as where I live, one feels the pressures to share with strangers at restaurants. The photo above is the rosemary onion bread in its aura of deliciousness before it was consumed shortly afterwards.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Town & Compound

I won't make a wiki article out of my town here but I think it is important to at least provide the basics. I live in a town of about 4,000 people. Elevation is about 1700 meters and the average annaul rainfall is around 1500 mm. There are really just 2 seaons: wet and dry. The wet season started around April and will last until Late September. It hails occasionaly.

Most of the people that live here are hillside farmers. The coffee is great and the honey is the best I have ever had. My town does not have a bus station so to get anywhere, one must be viligent and flag a bus down if ever s/he wants to get anywhere else. The electricity, mobile service (no LAN lines), and water are not always availabe; frequently one of these resources will be missing for a few days and when it comes back one of the others are gone.

I live in a compound, a fenced enclosure surrounding rentable rooms. I have two rooms to myself so am fortunate enough to be able to keep food out of my bedroom and rest assured rats won't cuddle up next to me in an attempt to play little spoon. Within my compound I have started a garden space and have worked on the hillside a bit, constructing primative stairs and introducting erosion control by means of transplanting trees and grasses. Above is a photo from within my compound at dusk looking north and over the hillside just mentioned.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I pity the fuul (that I eat for breakfast)

Fuul is one of my favorite breakfasts in Ethiopia. Eating fuul is basically eating bread dipped in a spicey bean paste. Currently, the going rate for a serving of fuul and a couple of bread rolls for dipping is 6 bir, roughly 40 cents (USD).

The following fuul recipe can be attributed to Wande, a friend of mine who runs one of the more popular breakfast houses in town. You can see his hand in the photo above preparing to remove a ready-to-eat fuul from the charcoal stove.

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Fuul / Fuulii
Total preperation time: 25 ? 67 min, depending on the quantity served.

Birbire (substitution: peprika or chile powder and the like)
Salt (optional)
Butter (optional)
Bread - for dipping into the fuul

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Bean Prep (20-60 min, depending on amount of fuul desired):
Add 1 part bean, 2 part water, and a couple teaspoons of salt in a pot (for 2 people or 1 hungry person, try 1 cup of beans and 2 cups of water). Boil the beans until the water has mostly left it and the beans look like a thick stew, where bubbles look like they are making an effort to escape. This may take up to 30 minutes.

For a large pot- reteraunt style, it takes about an hour. Bean paste prep can be and is usually done the night before fuul for breakfast is to be made.

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Fuul prep (5-7 minutes):
Fuul is made on demand so it can be eaten as soon as it's finsihed cooking. After the bean paste has been made, individual servings follow the procdures below. Use a small frying pan and stir frequently to avoid burning.

1. Peal and chop a medium sized onion and brown it in a small frying pan. Then,
2. Add 2 tablespoons of oil
3. Add 1/2 tablespoon of birbire (peprika can substitute)
4. Add 3-4 tablespoons of water
5. Add heaping spoon fulls of bean paste until desired consistancy of fuul is reached. Personally, I like it thick.
6. When the fuul has reached desired heat and consistancy salt to taste and throw in a dallop of butter 'cause you're done! Eat that fuul!

For the Special Fuul (Fuulii Special)
After the fuul has reached desired heat and consistancy, throw in an egg and scramble it in there. Avocados would probably be great, too. Experiement a little and you can claim a fuul for your very own.
- If you make it, let me know what you think!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blog to Blossom

So it's been about a year and I haven't made a post till now. I think life just made it an all of a sudden possible thing. Let me first say that I will be making these posts using my cell phone. That's right, all internet connections are using mobile internet out of my site. I cannot reveal my exact location but you could probably find me if you took the time to look. All you'd need to say is : where is the ferenji (foreigner)? And eventually you will be led by hand to me or someone who could likely lead you on a f- relay to to western Ethiopia- its funny. Anyways, you can expect updates and photos from me here that you will not find anywhere else- catering to an English speaking audience so if you understand me, be excited!