By Harry Kloman
When tourist James Barker had dinner at the home of his Ethiopian hosts, he knew he’d have to be polite and eat whatever indigenous cuisine they offered him. He didn’t know it wouldn’t be cooked.
Ethiopia is “a nation who generally live[s] on raw meat, and it cannot be supposed that they have made great advancement in their cuisine,” the Briton wrote in “Narrative of a Journey to Shoa,” an 1868 account of his Ethiopian odyssey.
Nearly a sesqui-century later, it looks like Barker was prescient. Ethiopian restaurants in America often tout their vegan options, and Ethiopians certainly appreciate their culture’s vegetarian cuisine. But they relish meat even more, and if it’s not a holiday fasting season, during which meat is forbidden, they hungrily embrace beef — sometimes cooked, sometimes not.
The recipe for raw beef hasn’t changed much since Barker’s visit. And how could it? Raw is raw, no preparation required. You melt some Ethiopian butter (niter kibe), combine it with freshly ground beef, toss in the requisite spices and voila, it’s what’s for dinner — a favorite Ethiopian dish called kitfo.
Unless, of course, you don’t fuss with all of that. Just take some bite-sized chunks of raw beef, dip them into the red pepper paste awaze or the even hotter red pepper powder mitmita, and you’re feasting on gored gored, most likely the no-frills meal that so repelled Barker.
The even simpler tere siga, or “raw meat,” requires no preparation at all : Presented with long strips of meat, the gourmand uses a knife to cut off piece after piece. This ritual is called q’wirt, from the Amharic word q’warata, to cut. Read more: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/14/food/la-fo-raw-meat-20110714