One of the best things about being with Marcus is his family. He has a huge, tight family consisting of siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, all living in the DC area. My family is spread all around the country. It’s just me, mom, dad and Tyler here in VA. We don’t really know where our ancestors came from or have any traditions that connect us to a specific country or culture.
So when Marcus’ family all gets together for holidays, it’s always a big event full of people. What’s even better, is that Marcus’ mom is Ethiopian. A lot of her family has come over from Ethiopia and live nearby. Over the years, I have been exposed to lots of the customs, traditions and food that comes with the Ethiopian culture. I consider myself very lucky because I never would have known anything about Ethiopia if we weren’t together.
Ethiopia has an awesome history. For example, Ethiopia is also one of the oldest sites of human existence known today, having yielded some of humanity’s oldest traces. Also, When Africa was divided up by European powers, Ethiopia was one of only two countries that retained its independence. Ethiopia is also the original source of the coffee bean.
I love the custom of making and drinking Ethiopian coffee. Americans just stop by 7-11 on their way to work and guzzle a tall styrofoam cup of whatever comes out of the machine.
Ethiopians take their time to make the coffee out of coffee beans on the stove top. You drink it out of little cups because it’s really strong. I always add milk and sugar to mine. It’s meant to be a social time and not rushed. I love Ethiopian coffee and drinking it with Marcus’ family. Sometimes I sit there and listen to them talk in Tigrinya. I have no idea what they’re saying, but it’s cool to just listen to the language.
Along with the coffee is the food. The diet is rich in vegetables and meat served on top of injera. Injera is large sourdough flatbread made out of teff flour. You do not eat with utensils. You use your right hand and the injera to scoop up the food.
Since I have stopped eating meat, Marcus’ mom has made an effort to make sure she makes plenty of veggies and beans for me to eat with the injera. We almost always have Ethiopian food along side American food at all of our gatherings.
I always learn something new when the family gets together. I even know a couple of words in Tigrinya. I hope to have to chance to visit one day to meet more of Marcus’ family. He has never been either, so I know it would be an awesome experience for us both. 🙂
I love learning about Ethiopian culture and traditions. Any readers out there have some interesting family history or traditions?