Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ethiopian Easter in Chicago

I wanted to share a little more about our past weekend. We arrived in Chicago a little before 11 in the morning so we took a walk around the block. The apartment that Deress's sisters live in is right downtown so our walk to us alongside Lake Shore Drive. It was chilly outside, but it was nice to take a short walk. We went to their apartment and Mimi (Deress's sister) and Tedenekialesh (aka Teddy - Deress's mother) were in the kitchen preparing the authenic Ethiopian meal for our Easter dinner. Deress's other sister, Keiko, had to leave soon after we arrived.

For about an hour we talked to Deress and his father, Captian Kifle Eshete. The stories and experiences that they shared with us helped us get an insight of the Ethiopian culture. When lunch was ready we had to have some instruction on what to do. They explained to us the custom of eating with your fingers, no utensils. They also went through all of the dishes they prepared. To start off, you place injera on your plate. It is a spongy sour bread. All of the dishers that are prepared are placed on top of the injera. They prepared a fewast and it was delicous. Although I don't remember the exact names, I think I can remember all of the dishes. I now realize I didn't take any pictures of the food.

Mimi and Teddy prepared collard greens, chicken with a sprcy sauce, dry curd cottage cheese, raw meat mixed with spices, lamb with some good flavoring and tibs (somewhat like a stir fry). We both tried everything. I don't handle spicy food very well so I couldn't really stomach the spicy chicken. Other than that, we really enjoyed it.

For about two hours, we sat around the coffee table and talked about Ethiopia. The family often spoke in their native language, Amharic. Even though we didn't understand a word, it was special to hear it. In the course of the afternoon, we were able to see how proud each family member was of their culture. They are all Ethiopian and super proud that they are from this country. They appreciate the opportunities America has given them, but they truely love Ethiopia. It has made them who they are today.

We had the opportunity to roast some coffee beans and make some Ethiopian coffee. We were able to see different kitchen items that we might purchase when we go later this year. We participated in the custom of smelling the coffee beans after they have been roasted. We really enjoyed learning the new things that are unique to Ethiopia. This is where we feel so blessed to have this family in our lives. They are willing to teach us and we want to learn.

Around four in the afternoon, some of their friends started arriving. Although we didn't get to know them as well as Deress's family, it was neat to observe the interaction of people.

We were originally planning just to be in Ethiopia for one week; however, if we are able to work it out, we might try to go early. When we told Deress's father and mother that we would just be there a week, they seemed disappointed. They encouraged us to stay atleast two weeks in order to better understand their culture. They are planning on being with us the entire time. How wonderful. It brings us so much comfort, mainly going to a place we have never been and we can't speak their language. I am sure it makes our families feel better too!

Right now we are anticipating that we will be traveling in October or November. They told us it was the best time to visit Ethiopia becasue it will be sprint time. They said that all the flowers will be blooming and it looks really pretty.

I will end the weekend with a cute comment. We were sitting on the couch and Deress's father said that he wished he knew the right person to talk to in the Embassy because he would try to speed up the process for us.


jenn said...

wow! what an incredible time you had! the food sounds amazing and it is so wonderful that you had the opportunity and will have future opportunities to learn more about ethiopia! you two are like adorable sponges and that rocks!!! what an amazing time. and there is so much more to come! prayers are with you!! love ya lots..m.e.

Deres said...
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Deres said...

Sarah and Chris, what a great time we had in Chicago. My parents and my sisters enjoyed meeting you and celebrating our Easter with you. My mom wouldn't stop commenting how nice of a couple you two are and they are looking forward to seeing you in Ethiopia in a few months...just make sure you go for more than a week:) As always, my prayers are with you as you go through this exciting journey.