June 26, 2013
Religion has a very noticeable presence in Ethiopia. Every morning on the minibus as we pass through Meskel (a cross) square, most people mutter a few words and make the sign of the cross. Every and are religious fasting days, and there are also long periods of fasting throughout the year. We are currently in the middle of an 18-day religious fast. Fasting to an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian means absolutely no animal products, including milk, eggs, and butter, and no foods containing these ingredients. Essentially, the whole city goes vegan!
Of course, living in a major city with many different religions and levels of religiousness, not everybody fasts. The cafeteria at my office and most restaurants offer both fasting and non-fasting options during these periods. Two of my co-workers are fasting and three are not. You also aren't supposed to eat until , but in the working world
The purpose of the fast is to make the body weak, so that you can pray for strength and forgiveness.
For me, it has been more of a feast than a fast - there are lots more lentils and veggies available during the fasting times! The night before the current fast began, I had a traditional Ethiopian feast at a restaurant called Yod Abyssinia. The cuisine is authentic and dinner includes a traditional dance show. I went with Michelle and another Addis newbie, and we shared a huge platter with both fasting and non-fasting items:
|Fasting and non-fasting platter at Yod Abyssinia.|
I can't tell what most things are and am pretty sure I accidentally ate some strange animal parts.