Sunday, January 26, 2014

Saturday Meat Market

Saturday markets in Ethiopia mean fresh meat for many towns and villages in the rural areas.  With a small group of friends, I headed to the village of Aroge to enjoy their meat market where we reserved choice cuts from a large cow we spotted waiting to be slaughtered.

One butcher in Aroge making his cuts
The process from cow to cut meat was surprisingly fast and well organized.  First, the cow was killed, separated from its hide, and taken in portions to nearby tables where butchers waited, stationed to take requests and negotiate prices from meat buyers.  The butchers here were clearly adept, making the whole process seem effortless and almost artful.
Kidneys and chekina, just before we cut and ate them with injera and daataa

My party requested the kidneys and ‘chekina’, which is a meat along the lower back of the animal known to be great for eating raw.  After we received our cuts, we headed across the street to a restaurant that was almost entirely self-service.  We were provided drinks, injera, daataa (chili sauce), and knives but we had to cut the meat for ourselves.  We spent the next 10 minutes slicing the meat in bite size pieces before we feasted.  That was probably the first time I ate kidneys and definitely the first time I ate them raw.  For me, new textures and tastes are most difficult to handle when I know they are sourced from an animal.  Although keeping the food down proved to not be a problem, the advice to take de-worming medication every couple of months when consuming raw meat regularly was disconcerting. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Timket (Epiphany) in the South

Dressed for the part, I cut some meat off the bone and join in the Timket Feast

The Ethiopian Orthodox holiday, Timket (or, Epiphany) recognizes the day Jesus was baptized.  Each region within Ethiopia celebrates Epiphany differently so what I briefly relate here might not be how people in places like Gonder or Mekele (cities within northern Ethiopian) would experience it.

In Ethiopia's southern region of Konso, I greeted Timket dressed with a traditional pair of Konso shorts, the Komfa, and scarf to match.  With a few recently made friends who were as welcoming as family, I shared a breakfast feast of meat (both raw and roasted) and t'ej - honey wine.  

One priest splashing holy water upon a crowd that gathered to celebrate Timket

A large Timket procession following the Tabot through a town in Konso  

After our meal we headed to a large field where we could observe a ceremony of symbolic baptizing for a crowd of Ethiopian Orthodox followers and took part in a large procession that followed a replica of the Tabot (the Ten Commandments) weaving a path from one church to another, singing, clapping, and rejoicing along the way.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Chekka, Hot Beer in a Drinking Gourd

Chekka and Drinking Gourd

Chekka is the beer of Konso people.  It is made from corn, sorghum, and/or wheat.  Unlike beers that you’re probably accustomed to, this is one that is best served hot and will have you spitting out bits of debris as you are finishing your cup.  There are several distinctly different alcoholic drinks prepared at home in Ethiopia but this one is my favorite.  It's great tasting, thick with energy (grains), served in a novel cup, and the environment where chekka is served is typically welcoming and lively.

In most cases chekka is drunk from a H’aambarra (gourd).  Many drinking gourds in chekka houses have been used for a long time, sometimes ripping or breaking around the lip or bottom.  Repairing a broken H’aambarra simply means sowing it back up and adding some character.

Chekka Finished

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Out of Addis!

I moved again and I extended my volunteer service till late April.  Finally I am out of the capital city, Addis Ababa, where road demolition is everywhere making ways for a new train system.  I will miss the conveniences of more dependable running water, electricity, and phone coverage but the rural areas have so much more charm.  Here is how the difference can be summed up for the time being - more to come latter because where I am at is both interesting and beautiful:

Addis Ababa, near Hayaa Hulet - where I lived for most of 2013

The road from my house - where I will be living for the next 4 months