Nov. 8, 2008 – Ethiopian Culture: from food to dance

Traditional Ethiopian Dance

Last night we were treated to an amazing cultural show at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant in downtown Addis. I’ve been to Ethiopian restaurants in Europe, but this was a truly exceptional experience where we tasted various Ethiopian dishes and watched live traditional song and dance from the various tribes across the country.

The main staple of the Ethiopian diet is a flat, sourdough bread, similar to a pancake, called Ingera. This bread can go with pretty much anything and is very high in carbohydrates and iron. We had a smorgesborg of food that was presented on top of a giant piece of Ingera – each food choice (raw or cooked beef, sauteed spinach, cooked beans, mixed vegetables, and hot sauces) was placed in piles and you use pieces of Ingera to pick up the food with your hands and eat it.

Lidia having her hands washed.

Before the dinner one of the wait staff brings a kettle of water with soap and a bowl for everyone to wash their hands – since you are all eating off the same dish of food without any utensiles this is quite a crucial part of dinner!

During dinner we had live stage entertainment that included different tribal dances to represent the hundreds of tribes that exist in Ethiopia, all with their individual languages. Most of the top athletes come from the Oromia tribe and all speak together in the Oromo language, in addition to the national language of Amharic.

Mo and I’s attempt at tribal dancing.

After the song and dance show on stage, the dancers went around to different tables to see if the crowd to match their impressive dance. You can see how we did here. We all had a go, but definitely couldn’t match their well-practiced dance. In fact, Defar told me that the same people dance every night for about four hours and she expected they made about 500 bir, equivalent to $50 in a month. That means these dancers, who are athletes themselves, make less than the average club runner in Ethiopia.




















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