By Yemi Hailemariam ’23. Art by Sophia Otero ’21.
Injera: a ‘flatbread’ made out of gluten-free teff grain unique to Ethiopia and Eritrea and a staple to almost all meals.
They tell me they love Ethiopian food,
Fork clumps of meat,
Dip it in the oil like
some ethnic ketchup,
Place a lonely piece on their tongue,
Call it Tibs.
Scrape a mesh of green,
Puncture it with knives of rice,
Tousle it through like salt,
Ball it into a fist in the mouth,
Call it Gomen.
Spoon the pool of orange stew,
Exile the oil on the circumference of the plate,
Scoop the body sitting in the middle,
Slurp it like a culturally thickened soup,
Call it Shiro.
They tell me they love Ethiopian food
And I don’t know how to tell them
they don’t know how.
They say it’s like a pancake, Injera
And I try to see the cake
in the sponge of days sweat
and the hours of labor,
See the measly frying pan,
The sizzling coating of oil
in the sheer burn of the
Flat, fiery Mitad.
They say it has holes, Injera
And I search for a pit
in the galaxy of spots on its face.
Crunch the onyx caves on the canvas
into hollow, gaping paths,
and fail to come out again.
For a hole has another end
And Injera only has eyes.
They say they like Kocho better,
And I tell them you do not wear armor
to a wedding.
They say they like bread better,
And I tell them it is not meant to be eaten
with proper company.
They say it is hard to eat with,
And I tell them not to be afraid to hold on
with the strength of all fingers.
They say it is too bitter,
And I tell them it should not have taste
in the first place.