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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog begun in 2012 about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.

I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps.

Around 2018 I tried a new way of writing my family's and my own UK travel adventures. Britain is a brilliant place for a staycation, mini-break and day trips. It's also a fantastic place to explore so I've begun to write up reports of places that are easy to reach by public transport. And when they are not that easy to reach I'll offer some tips on how to get there.

See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Try an Ethiopian dish

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. This post gives you a glimpse of all things Ethiopian in a tiny corner of Finsbury Park in London. Words from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).

I've just had a tasty lunch with the talented Ethiopian soul singer Hanisha Solomon. Hanisha was introducing me to proper Ethiopian cuisine so took me to St Gabriel's Restaurant in Finsbury Park - one of several speciality restaurants in the area.

A great restaurant for lunch if you want an Ethiopian dish. Inside on bright pink walls
are paintings and bric-a-brac from Ethiopia. You feel like you've travelled.
Finsbury Park has two Ethiopian restaurants, a butcher and an internet cafe. It's a real meeting point for the Ethiopian diaspora, but what you'll really notice is extremely friendly people. Try saying "Salam" (Hi) when you enter. Here are some other local Ethiopian run businesses (see pix).

Ethiopian butcher and restaurant on Rock Street, N4.

Intriguing shop window at Ethiopian-run internet cafe, Blackstock Road, N4.

The same Ethiopian-run internet cafe, but pictured so you can recognise it.
Hanisha and I ate this tasty collection of mixed vegetables - mostly lentils cooked in a variety of interesting ways and split yellow peas - plus a finely chopped red onion, tomato and chilli salad. The green chilli is stuffed with onions. Every bit of our meal was delicious. I hadn't had injera (a sourdough flatbread) before, or realised it was quite similar in texture to a pancake. Lots of people came in during our meal to buy fresh injera to eat later at home.

This picture doesn't do justice to the food - a few moments later the restaurant owner came over with four tightly rolled injera so the plate was soon crowded with food. Later Hanisha told me that the flour traditionally used to make this bread is so iron-rich that it's very popular with super-celebrities like Posh Spice and Gwyneth Paltrow.
There are a few rules to follow when you eat the Ethiopian way.

  • Firstly there was no cutlery - so you wash your hands first. 
  • Say a prayer of thanks. 
  • Then tear the injera bread (which looks a little like a pancake) with your right hand before heaping it up with food. I was busy chatting but I noticed that lots of the other customers used their spare hand to hold their mobiles - an interesting modern manners twist. 
  • If you need to lick your fingers, don't! Use a napkin instead.

There was a lot of food on our plate but Hanisha kept encouraging me. "Please eat!" she said.

After we'd eaten all that we could, we finished off the meal with a spiced tea - a mix of cardamom, cinnamon and clove which you can add sugar to if you want. It was a really lovely experience. Thank you so much Hanisha for this treat! And very good luck with all your projects.

To read an interview with Hanisha Solomon see this blog post here.

Test yourself on Ethiopia -
  1. Ethiopia is where humans originated
  2. More than 80 languages spoken amongst the 92 million people - Omoro and Amharic being the most widely used, chiefly Christian
  3. It's the home of the coffee bean
  4. And also the spiritual home of Rastafarians, a line of kings descended from Solomon, one-time known as Abyssinia... you can find out more on wiki here.

Over to you
If you like Ethiopian food where do you recommend going to find it?

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