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Dec 9, 2009 09:27 AM

Etiquette for traditional Ethiopian dinner?

I've been invited to a traditional Ethiopian dinner.

I know the basics (e.g. the mesob, gorsha, etc.), but as a first-timer and a guest at someone's home I would appreciate any insights and tips on proper etiquette that you can share.

Thanks very much.

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  1. Well first: congratulations -- what a great opportunity.

    Traditional eating technique -- even at classy meals -- is with just the right hand, sans utensils. Tear a small piece of the injera with the one hand (I'm sure your hosts will forgive you if you need both hands) then pick up a mouthful of the meat/vegetables within a fold of the bread, then into the mouth. (Wash hands before and after dining, of course.)

    If you're offered raw meat, accept it as an honor.

    I've seen beer, whiskey and a mead-like (strong) drink called tej drunk at dinners in Ethiopia. A gift of a nice microbrew would probably be well received. (I'm assuming your hosts are Coptic and not Muslim.)

    In the smaller dinner parties I've been to in Addis Abbaba, the diners signal that they've had enough by stuffing hands full of food into their fellow diners' mouths. I don't know whether this is a general Ethiopean tradition, or Amharic, or just something done by my particular Ethiopean friends. If you're brave, try this. It's a fun way to finish a meal.

    Have fun.

    1 Reply
    1. re: teleme

      Thanks very much for the feedback.