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Contents Page: July 1, 2011, vol 7 no 2

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Bob Lucky

 

An Evening in Harar

It's almost nine when we return to the hotel from watching the feeding of the hyenas outside the walls of Harar, near Sanga Gate. The snarling, the gulping up of meat, the crunching of bones hasn't exactly given us an appetite, but it's been a long day and a little bite to take the edge off would be nice.

new moon
reading the paper
in the tv's glare

The man at the desk assures us the restaurant is open, so we climb the three flights to find a long corridor crowded with empty tables. It's dark and there are no chairs. Fluorescent tubes flicker on. A young man in a black vest appears dragging two chairs in one hand and holding menus in the other. We immediately ask for Ambo, a popular sparkling mineral water.

"No Ambo. Bubbly."

Bubbly it is, and firfir, a concoction of leftover injera and a spicy sauce, and a bowl of lentil soup.

"No lentil," the waiter informs us. "Vegetable." My wife agrees to vegetable soup. Ten minutes later the waiter returns. "No berbere," he says, referring to one of the quintessential Ethiopian spice mixtures. I resign myself to eating a pasta sauce firfir. Nothing else on the menu is available.

small talk
the brightness of stars
far away

Supper arrives forty-five minutes later – two bottles of Ambo, an incendiary firfir and a bowl of lentil soup. Tired, we eat slowly and make plans for tomorrow. Thinking I would like a macchiato, I look around for the waiter, but there's no one there. The kitchen is closed. On the way out we turn off the lights.


Notes:

Berbere, a combination of powdered chili pepper and other spices.

Injera, a large flatbread.

Firfir, made from shredded injera with spices, is a typical breakfast dish.

Ambo, an Ethiopian natural water.

 

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