Although the Italians were pushed out of Ethiopia after only a few years, their influence remains in the cuisine and coffee crazed culture of Ethiopia. Nearly every local restaurant or cafe serves pasta, usually spaghetti bolognese or marinara, and certainly every bar has a true ‘Made in Italy’ espresso machine.
That’s not to say that Ethio-Italian is true Italian. Trust me, I lived in Florence, I know real Italian. This is not, it’s distinctly Ethio-Italian, which as you may have guess means berbere spice. Some places the pizza was so heavily ladened with berbere that we had to take breaks for water between bites. Other places had a delicious blend of berbere and tomato sauce that wasn’t exactly Italian, but tasted great none the less.
Ethiopian coffee is world famous, and the Ethiopians have definitely overstepped the Italians in the presentation of coffee. A traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony starts with roasting the coffee beans before preparing and serving the coffee. Having only started to drink coffee in Mexico, Danny was shocked at his first Ethiopian coffee, which resembled a strong espresso rather than the nescafe instant coffee we’ve become accustomed to.
The biggest problem with Ethio-Italian was the carbo-loading that we put our bodies through. At some point we simply lost the ability to eat injera. The locals here eat that spicy mix of meat as many as three times a day and we just couldn’t do it anymore. Pizza and pasta carried us through!