For those outside the Ethiopian community, Denver’s Taste of Ethiopia annual festival is a way to learn more about a culture that has drawn them in with food.
By Joella Baumann (The Denver Post) |
Denver isn’t in the dark about Ethiopian food.
In some cities, Ethiopian cuisines are a niche market for adventurous foodies. But Colorado has become a hub for African-inspired restaurants serving the country’s famous spicy-sour mix of injera bread and stews.
That why for the last five years, thousands of locals have flocked to the annual Taste of Ethiopia.
At this festival the food is prepared just like it would be in the old country, said Sophia Belew, who normally cooks traditional food as a volunteer at church. There is no watering down of the spices to make them more palatable for Euro-centric tastes.
“This is it,” Sophia said. “Authentic Ethiopian cuisine.”
The festival served up an array of stews called wat plopped on top of African sponge-bread. Doro Wot, s the national dish of Ethiopia, is usually served at weddings and special occasions. It’s chicken bathed in a blend of spices called berbere and served alongside a veggie, like collards with Ayib (Ethiopian cottage cheese) and Awaze (Ethiopian hot sauce).
Sophia said it’s not a celebration without Doro Wot.
Festival curators didn’t disappoint on the coffee-front either. Ethiopia is known as the birthplace of coffee.
“We take it very seriously,” said Neb Asfaw, who is from Ethiopia and one of the event founders. “A coffee ceremony can take several hours.”
The beans, which start out green, are roasted over an open flame to different degrees to produce light medium and dark roast coffees. The resulting shades-of-brown beans are then ground down and placed into imported-from-Ethiopia clay pots and boiled.
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