Most people aren’t born with a desire to try foods from all over the world. I’m extremely grateful for my privileged upbringing, because my parents raised me on diverse cuisines. For instance, they regularly took me to Ethiopian restaurants in Adam’s Morgan, as well as many other forays into authentic worldly restaurants around DC and Northern VA. If you’re not familiar with Ethiopian food, you get to eat with your hands! Very exciting for a kid – tearing up bread that looks like a napkin (injera) and scooping your food with your hands. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really into vegetables back then and there were always a lot of those on the communal platter. Also, my mother liked everything spicy, so the meat was often too intense for me as well (probably the rich berbere spice blend).
It was a rocky start with Ethiopian food, but at least this adolescent unlikely foodie got exposed to it. The novel eating style of sharing and digging and tearing at pretty little piles of grub was burned into my memory. Years later, I became more open-minded (mature?) about the different kinds of food that I wanted to understand, and so I started looking around for Ethiopian. Several trips to Philly showed me that, holy shit, I love Ethiopian food – and I was vegan at that point.
Back in Richmond, I looked around and didn’t find much along the lines of Ethiopian offerings. The Nile opened on Laurel St in 2006. Although friends of mine swear by the place, it seemed kind of over-priced when I went ($13.50 for collard greens?).* Maybe it will simply always be the Hole in the Wall in my recovering scene-ster mind. There was also a place on W. Grace just east of Belvidere (called ____), but it didn’t last long. This lack of Ethi-food in RVA really depressed me about the gaps in our multiculturalism, and I kind of put my passion for Ethiopian food out of my mind for the past few years.