Tuesday, March 20, 2007

“I’ll Have What She’s Having”

I first tasted Ethiopian food almost twenty years ago, when Chuck took me to a Boston restaurant. I was enchanted, transported and hooked. We’ve eaten at three different Ethiopian places in and around Boston. But once we discovered the award winning Asmara, near Central Square in Cambridge, we became loyal patrons.

Tonight we went to Asmara after attending the New England Flower Show. (I’ll post some photos from there tomorrow.) As always, the long, narrow, unassuming little restaurant managed to delight us with the traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine, which, in my opinion, approaches ambrosia! The woman with the dazzling smile, who magically seems to do everything in the restaurant with grace, greeted us warmly. She seated us at a western style table, which is our preference. This evening, we put ourselves in her hands and ordered her recommendation of a combination platter for two. When I expressed a preference for a particular vegetarian dish, she said no problem.

Within just a few minutes she brought us a large round platter of food to share. Each of the dishes - lamb, chicken, beef, veggies and a tossed salad - are placed on large rounds of Injera. Injera is made from the grain teff and is rather like a large pancake or crepe, but on the sour side. It has a moist, spongy texture and appearance which soaks up all the yummy sauces. You tear off a bit of the Injera and use it to gather up the food with your fingers. This particular assortment ranged from spicy to mild, with the cold salad with feta cheese providing a nice contrast. The last bites of an Ethiopian meal are of the deliciously saturated Injera. I swear this food brings out the same hand slapping the table feelings of Meg Ryan’s deli scene in “When Harry Met Sally”! “Yes, yes, yes!”

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