Fifteen minutes. That’s approximately how long it took to find a parking space. Five minutes. That’s exactly how long it took for me to figure out that the call-to-pay-to-park parking meter was malfunctioning. Ten minutes. That’s approximately how long it took to find another parking space. America’s capital city seemed bound and determined to keep us from having our nice morning outing, but with a little perseverance and a display of some better-than-I-expected parking skills, I did it – rather we did it – my two children and I. Although I was about ready to head home before our actual outing even began, I loaded Easton and Elle into their respective seats in the tank that is otherwise referred to as a “double stroller,” lathered them up with sunscreen, gave Elle an apple with which to calm her “rumbling tummy,” and forged on. Up and down the streets of Washington D.C. on a crowded Summer morning we went. Yes, merrily and literally we rolled along, with Elle offering cheery “hello’s” and “oh, hi there’s” to every single being with whom we shared a sidewalk, be it man, animal, or statue.
“We’re hiking, Mom! We’re hiking!!” Elle declared, completely thrilled at the thought.
“No. No not really, sweetie.” I started to correct her as I slowed the stroller to a stop to grab her a cup of juice that I’d stashed in one of its thousand storage compartments.
“This isn’t really a hike at all. It’s just a walk; a walk through the city …” I explained, thinking that it was about as far from a hike as any outdoor walk could hope to be. I watched as the smartly suited business men and women passed us by, clutching their obligatory Starbucks; some giving Elle a “hello” in return. I revved up the stroller again, as the smell of diesel fuel from an idling truck parked in a nearby loading zone began to intensify. From the large gray, cracked sidewalks, bespeckled with old chewing gum to the black asphault that stretched up and down Calvert Street as far as our eyes could see, we seemed surrounded by anti-nature. Elle waved to her reflection in the large window of a shawarma shop.
“Look, Mom! It’s meat on a grill! They’re camping!” she exclaimed. “This is a really nice hike we’re taking.”
I stopped myself before trying to explain, yet again, the difference between a hike and a walk. She’s not confused here, I realized. She’s pretending. It dawned on me, as I watched Elle point at things and nod her head in satisfaction, that she was completely lost in her own world. She was getting a kick out of this “hike” that we were on and who was I to squash the make believing? As they say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
So we continued on our stroll and as we wandered up and down the city streets, I began to see what she was talking about. There were indeed many hike-like things that we passed on our way …
“Whatsa matter, Mommy?” Elle wondered aloud.
“Thanks for a great hike, Mom.” Elle said in the car on the way home.
“You’re welcome. We’ll do it again sometime soon, okay?”
“Okay. But you should wear better shoes next time.”
The recipes below reflect some of the most popular dishes that you will find all over the country of Ethiopia, the Doro Wot (stewed chicken), Misir Wot (red lentils) and Fossolia (green beans, carrots and tomatoes) being staples on both restaurant menus and in home cook’s kitchens. Largely characterized by their inclusion of the Berbere spice blend, these dishes are both inexpensive and simple to prepare. You can easily make the spice blend yourself yourself if you have a spice grinder or coffee grinder, but you can also order it online here. As for the injera bread, I think it is safe to say that your Ethiopian dining experience would be far from complete or authentic if you skip out on this thin, spongey flatbread. Used in place of utensils, injera requires only three ingredients and is easier to make than pancakes – delicious and absolutely worth doing.