- Service–Ethiopian Style!
Unexpected adventures provide some of the most serendipitous memories of our lives, don’t they?
When our daughter took us on vacation to San Francisco, we had one of those moments when we discovered the Massawa Ethiopian Restaurant in the heart of the Haight-Ashbury district. Delicious food–unlike any other food I had ever experienced–was served on a large round plate in the center of our table. The different dishes were clumped beside each other on a flat, spongy piece of injera–Ethiopian bread at least two feet in diameter and completely covering the plate.
We ate the food with our fingers, occasionally spinning the plate so we could each try the various fare. The bread had a vinegar-y taste, like sourdough, and the dishes ranged from lentils to cabbage to green beans to split peas. Each one having a unique flavor, difficult to describe but enjoyable to experience.
This memory came to mind as Mrs. LanceAround and I, along with our three offspring, were driving down International Drive last week. This road is reminiscent of the Las Vegas strip–lots of flashing signs, tourist attractions, restaurants, hotels–everything but the casinos. Mrs. LanceAround’s sharp eyes caught a sign proclaiming “Ethiopian Cuisine.”
Tucked away in the midst of all the tourist trappings is a small, hidden plaza which houses the Nile Ethiopian Restaurant. We arrived around 10pm on Saturday and met Ermias & Ababa Gebremedhin, the owners. They came to Washington D.C. from Ethiopia about 12 years ago. In 2007, they moved to Orlando and opened up the Nile Restaurant. Ermias was a soccer player in Ethiopia and neither he nor his wife, Ababa, had any restaurant experience.
Ermias Proudly Serves Ethiopian Coffee
When I asked Ermias why he left Ethiopia, he replied, “Ethiopia doesn’t give you a chance.” He enjoys the freedom and opportunity that are present in this country. He says his wife “pushed me” to open the restaurant. He quickly credits her with their success, stating that she is the one who can cook.
We enjoyed the decor of the Nile; a mixture of standard tables and chairs along with round African stools–shaped like large drums–With an even larger and taller drum-shaped table. The food is served on a single, large plate placed in a woven basket with a woven lid that has a large, slightly curved handle similar to the shape of the stem on top of a pumpkin.
One taste of the food and we were immediately transported back to our memory of that first Ethiopian meal we experienced in San Francisco. It was unique and bursting with flavor.
Mrs. LanceAround does not like sourdough bread, so she was not crazy about the injera or the collard greens. But she heartily enjoyed the lentils, yellow split peas and green beans. # 1 Daughter is a bit finicky and did not eat much. No worries, the three LanceAround males scarfed up everything else. A unique treat that made for a great adventure.
Give the Nile Ethiopian Restaurant a try. Expand your horizons! You might just discover something…serendipitous!
Nile Ethiopian Restaurant, 7040 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819 407.354.0026. Entrees from $9 to $15.