Saturday, August 29, 2009

Little Ethiopia: Messob

Wow, the summer comes to a screaming halt, and somehow I haven't posted in a month! Okay, I probably shouldn't say "somehow" as if i have no idea how it happened: I've been busy. This has been a summer of two moves (finally settled in, kitchen and all), an enjoyable but time-consuming teaching job, another amorphous and independently-motivated job, and just other stuff.

As with all my posting hiatuses, I have still continued to eat and cook, but have been less than diligent about taking photos and posting my experiences. In addition, I don't happen to have a working oven right now - wouldn't you know that I would move into a place whose oven is broken, not fixable by the gas company, and may even need to be entirely replaced - so I'm living the life of a frustrated baker.

Instead of a recipe, then, I share with you Messob, adjacent to my new neighborhood. Messob is nestled in L.A.'s one block of concentrated Ethiopian stores and restaurants, amongst a conglomeration of other ethnic pockets. I don't know how long I'll live in a city as large as L.A., but I do know that this is absolutely one of the benefits: the diversity of communites collected in the city, and the resulting food availability. There's almost no limit to the food I can find without ordering online, albeit at high cost at times (for example, gelatin sheets, which I previously thought I could only get in France, and kosher gelatin, which I brought back from Israel - both available within 10 minutes drive!).

The thing I enjoy most about Ethiopian food is the commual sharing aspect of the meal; I highly recommend ordering together as a table, and getting a variety of stews, which the server should spoon out onto your injera bread. The slightly sour, spongy bread will serve as your eating utensil as you scoop up the tasty and colorful veggie and meat stews. It's difficult to find parking in the area, since the residential streets have strict parking policies, but worth it for the experience and the food.

Warning about potential awkwardness: the menu suggests that you feed your dining companions mouthfuls of injera with stew, but if you're not there with someone of intimate acquaintance, you may want to pretend that you didn't read that part of the menu...