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Jun 6, 2012 02:19 PM

Ethiopian restaurants - can you ask for a fork?


I would really like to try Ethiopian food, which sounds great. I really love the kinds of spices they use. However, I HATE injera. I don't like the texture, the appearance, or the taste. In Chinese restaurants, it is no big deal to ask for a fork and in many they will even provide Western utensils to everyone along with the chopsticks, without anyone even having to ask.

Is it completely unacceptable to ask for Western utensils in an Ethiopian restaurant? Would it be seen as insensitive or insulting? Have you ever done it?

  1. While I do like the injera, it fills me up too much (I'd rather eat copious amounts of the delicious dishes). I've asked for a fork many times at our local joint and have always been happily accomodated!

    1 Reply
    1. re: imsohungry

      I have asked for a fork as there always comes a point in the meal where I'm getting really full and would like to stop eating injera and continue eating the meat and vegetables. I have been told that they have no forks, so no.

      So based on imsohungry's response and mine, it would make sense to call the restaurant ahead of time and ask.

    2. I'd probably bring my own fork. I acknowledge it's probably rude. But then again, I am the customer.

      5 Replies
      1. re: jeanmarieok

        I bring my own chopsticks when we go for dim sum, just because all the seafood houses around here have those big slippery plastic fake-ivory ones, just the thing for dropping a glutinous shrimp dumpling down the front of one's shirt. This has raised some eyebrows at the table, but no negative vibes from the staff.

        I don't see any real difference between bringing one's favored utensils to a meal and bringing one's own cue stick to a pool game, and if one is, as you say, a paying customer, there is no reasonable basis for anyone to feel annoyed, much less express it.

        1. re: Will Owen

          A well bred person would not raise their eyebrows if you dropped a dumpling down your shirt, they would pretend not to notice. 4 or 5 dumplings, though, would smack of a buffet heist...:)

          1. re: Veggo

            My very well-bred wife would say, "Will! Not AGAIN!!" and the rest of the Food Posse would be snorting or laughing out loud. I run with a brutal crowd. No damn respect for age whatsoever. Great taste in grub, though.

        2. re: jeanmarieok

          It would be rude in the home context if it was not done for necessity, because it implies the host cannot provide proper hospitality. In the commercial context, it's less pointed and therefore less rude, and in this specific context, I would not count it as rude (unless you expect the staff to wash your own utensil...).

          1. re: jeanmarieok

            I'm reminded of ‘As Good as It Gets’ where Melvin Udall only uses his own disposable plastic fork and knife because he doesn't trust the cleanliness of the restaurant silver.

          2. Yes it is O.K. and most will gladly accommodate you.

            1. Thanks, everyone! There are so many Ethiopian restaurants here and now I'm going to start trying them all!

              4 Replies
              1. re: Just Visiting

                The Ethiopian restaurant where I live offers all dishes and combo platters on rice as an alternative to injera. Forks are necessary with rice. If I didn't want the injera and rice wasn't offered, I'd just ask for my dishes to be served on their own, without the injera, as it absorbs the sauces from each dish. I'd just ask for a fork and spoon.

                1. re: Just Visiting

                  Is there any restaurant in this country that wouldn't accommodate a request for a fork?

                  1. re: ferret

                    There was a vietnamese place in Poughkeepsie, not sure if it is still there (or what the name was) but I used to go there in the late 90s. That was where I learned to deal with chopsticks because that's all they had (well, that and the soup spoons).

                  2. Quite a few Ethiopian restaurants serve Italian food as well. In the DC area, I've been to an Ethiopian restaurant that served only Italian food. So forks and spoons are certainly available.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Steve

                      How is it an Ethiopian restaurant if it only serves Italian food? I would call that an Italian restaurant that happens to be owned/operated by Ethiopians.

                      1. re: babette feasts

                        It could be serving Ethopianized Italian food. They were an italian colony and surely some of the culinary background ended up there.

                        1. re: jgg13

                          Interesting. I had no idea they were a colony, that would make more sense.

                            1. re: Steve

                              Yes, I found that. History was never a strong suit :) So what is the story of this restaurant you mentioned? Ethiopianized Italian food? Italianized ethipian food?

                              1. re: babette feasts

                                Basically, it's just bad Italian food..... not quite like Italian-American food.... but it is an Ethiopian restaurant. I don't even know if the place I'm thinking about is still around, but anywhere you find a bunch of Ethiopian restaurants, you will find some that also serve a few Italian dishes. Also, an Ethiopian bakery here will serve mostly Italian pastries.

                                1. re: Steve

                                  Huh. I don't go out for a ton of Ethipian food, but I do really enjoy it, and I swear I've never seen any Italian food on the menus. Thanks for enlightening me.