12.07.2016 - 12.07.2016 28 °C
It has been a long 48 hours! The internet has been down, the electricity has been on and off, my shower is still cold and I have been busy at the hospital. However, there seems to be a small window of opportunity to get a blog post up......but it will be a brief one.
I have become obsessed with coffee! Ethiopia is thought to be the birthplace of coffee and it shows. Coffee is everywhere. Many houses along the streets have a small table with cups sitting outside their door waiting for coffee to be served. I cannot believe how different it tastes here in Ethiopia. Everyone knows I love my 'skinny flat white' and will go to great lengths to find a good barista. I've never enjoyed espresso and find black coffee generally very bitter. But here, it is smooth and rich with no bitterness at all. I started drinking it black like the locals as the milk is unpasteurized and I didn't want some nasty disease, but now I choose it that way. I also, like the locals, love it very sweet!
I've known that my housekeeper, Meron, buys fresh coffee beans every week and we end up with beautiful ground coffee powder. She goes to the market and buys a very particular type. I've been hoping to catch her in the process of dealing with the beans. Yesterday was my lucky day and she was very happy to show me the entire process.
These are the fresh beans. It's hard to believe that these hard, green beans provide so much pleasure to the world.
She goes through them and discards the duds then washes them thoroughly. They are then placed on a baking tray and put into a very hot oven. Meron watches them closely, stirring them around occasionally until they were 'ready'. It was hard to get from her what 'ready' meant but they were pretty charred black and smoking.
She then tosses and blows the beans in the tray to remove all the light husky material and discards any that don't look right.
Next comes the hard work! She grinds the freshly roasted beans by hand in a metal container. The rich coffee aroma as she does this is amazing and I was salivating; desperate for a hit! I had a turn but quickly tired. I think I'll use an electric grinder at home!
And voila! Freshly roasted and ground Ethiopian gold. Now for the taste test......
And to top it off, an Ethiopian lunch: lentils, shiro wat (chick pea stew), pickled beetroot, spinach and salad and, of course, injera. The food is always served on a big tray lined by injera and everyone eats together from this dish. I just love the communal nature of their eating and now don't think twice about launching in using my fingers. It is such a beautiful sensory way to eat (haha who would have thought they'd hear me say that?!).
Today has been a very stressful day. At one point I was pacing the floor of the ward. It happened to be lunchtime so one of the midwives told me 'not to worry' and to enjoy some food with them. Once again, out came the huge platter lined with injera. Several of the midwives had brought food - a potato dish and a meat dish - which was tipped onto the plate. And we all tucked in and shared the meal together.
There are 2 lessons from this:
1. Midwives around the world are beautiful people (actually my dear wife, Jenny, was the one who mentioned this and she is quite right!)
2. Food fixes everything!