The texture of tripe!

Injera – a delicious accompaniment to spicy Ethiopian food or a disgusting, sour-tasting substance to be avoided at all costs?  Just like Marmite, injera has the power to divide opinion – you either love it or you hate it!  I have to say that I fall into the latter category!

You can’t fail to come across injera within hours of arriving in Ethiopia.  It is the staple food and is served at every meal.  If you haven’t read about it in advance of your trip (luckily, I had!), then your first experience of it might be somewhat perplexing. Invariably, it is served rolled up and has the appearance, and, indeed, the cold, clammy texture, of a dirty grey flannel.  Your initial thought would not be that you were supposed to eat it!!




Tef

Essentially, injera is a sourdough risen flatbread with a slightly fermented, tangy taste and a rubbery, open texture reminiscent of tripe.  Have I sold it to you yet?  It is made from flour milled from teff, a small, iron-rich grain grown only in certain mid-elevation areas of Ethiopia and Eritrea.  If you have eaten injera outside of the Horn of Africa, it is unlikely to have been authentic.

Injera is made into large flat pancakes which are usually cooked on a clay disc over an open fire.  These are then allowed to cool and are then used as the ‘plate’ on which various dishes are served.  Extra injera is then rolled up and served separately.  The idea is that the diner tears off pieces of injera and uses them to scoop up the stews and salads it is served with.  Once the meat and vegetable dishes are finished, the ‘plate’ on which they were presented is eaten too!

Dishes served on injera

More of the same!
Even scrambled eggs were served on injera!

I really didn’t like injera on first tasting it.  It was the texture more than the taste which put me off.  Mark, though, thought it was a good accompaniment to his very spicy stew.  The second time I tried it was with Yuhn at the traditional Ethiopian restaurant we went to and I sort of got it when I ate it with the assortment of dishes it came with. After that, however, I just became bored of it, rather like I did with the refried beans which were served with every single meal in Mexico, and would always try to order something which didn’t involve injera in any way!  Fortunately, though, some of the group we were travelling with loved it, so we didn’t offend any of the locals by not eating their national dish!


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