Perhaps you have selected one of our specialities and would now like to know the correct manner for eating this dish. In USA you will often be confronted with the opinion that only primitive peoples with no gastronomy eat with thier fingers. However, this argument is distorted for we know very well that Europeans eat with their fingers where certain foods are concerened (e.g. poultry).
One could theorize that in times gone by insufficient hygiene or inadequtewashing facilites promoted the use of table cutlery. Young children still provide us with funny demonstrations of this – expecially when they simply refuse to conded to the need to wash their hands, as they feel the use of cutlery prevents them from coming into direct cntact with their food.
Naturally, the food consistency plays a major role when eating. In this regard, there is a unique eating tradition for Ethiopian dishes. Those who want to share a meal in the traditional way of eating the food from a large plate is expected to wash their hands; this is always carried out prior to mealtime.
The “Enjera” pancake is eaten cold and virtually replaces the spoon or the fork. A piece, the size of the palm of your hand is broken off by hand and used to grasp small amount of the “wot” sauce. The “Enjera” is intended as a utensil for your food, allowing you to eat in sizeable portions. A calm and concerntrateed approach will let you master these skills and you will succeed in forming bite-zed portions which won’t come apart when bringing them to your mouth. The pancake can be moulded using your fingers until it has absorbed enough sauce to let the more solid food cling to it, forming the shape of a ball.
Fingers should not come into contact with your mouth when putting the formed morsel into it. Moreover, it is considered as very bad manners if someone licks their fingers- a habit you can often watch at typical snack bars. Also, Ethiopian food is always eaten with just one handand care is taken not to hurry through your meal. If larger morsels cannot be grasped with the “Enjera” (poultry or larger pieces of meat) it is acceptible to sicretely eat these on their own. If you are very hungry or a little impatient, feel free to use your cutlery. Nobody will expect you to be perfect. After all, eating with chopsticks is not an easy task at first try.