February 28th, 2006
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There is something magical about traveling to a foreign country to go pick up your child. Senses are on high alert. Nerves are keyed up. Your brain is soaking in as much of the overwhelming newness as possible, trying to get a handle on this country in which your child was born.

Our first morning in Ethiopia, we went down to breakfast just an hour or so before we would be heading to the orphanage. We were tired from just getting in the night before, but keyed up. I couldn’t wait to hold my little girl. But our jetlagged selves were also ready for some breakfast.

The buffet table at the Ghion is large, with juice and fruit are at one end, a variety of sweet and toasted breads in the middle, and hot food in chafing dishes at the other end.


We steered clear of the peeled fresh fruit. There was no way to tell if it had been handled properly. Grabbed a couple unpeeled oranges, as well as scrambled eggs and some lovely white toast made with a chewy sourdough bread.

And then there was the fir fir. I first mistook it for minced fried onions and beef. I knew it had a fair bit of hot pepper on it by the color. Since I love spice, I had to try it. The first taste set my mouth on fire and my eyes to streaming. But it was so good!!

My daughter was less than thrilled by it, and only had it once or twice our whole stay there. But I had it every single morning. I didn’t learn till we got home what it was actually called, but it was one of the first recipes I tried to replicate.

I got this recipe from a family with Ethiopian kids.

Hiwot’s Fir Fir

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, minced finely
5 cloves minced garlic
Berbere, to taste (Hiwot uses at least 1 T.)
Salt, to taste
1 3 oz can tomato paste
Injera (day-old is best)

Heat oil and briefly saute onion and garlic. Add ¼ cup water and berbere and stir till blended. Add 2 c. water and tomato paste. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Add broken-up Injera. Cook till injera has soaked up all liquid.

2 Responses to “Ethiopian Cooking: My Love Affair With Fir Fir”

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