Diamonds in the Rough

This Week: Ethiopian Food


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Since our first day at UC Berkeley, we've tried to enlighten our taste buds with Berkeley's many culinary delights. We've ordered sushi at 3 in the morning, inhaled Korean BBQ into our gullets and engulfed gyros whole in our quest to sample from the cornucopia of ethnic cooking that Berkeley has to offer. But there is one culinary enclave that has mesmerized us from day one but whose food had never seemed to find its way to our pie-holes: Ethiopian food, the mystery cuisine that came with drive-by allure and avid recommendations from more experienced gastro-philes.

We arrived at Finfine a little apprehensive, especially considering we couldn't pronounce most of the items on the menu. However, the tantalizingly titled dish Beg Tibs immediately caught our attention and provided fodder for lame boob jokes the rest of the night. After receiving a short explanation of the dishes and Ethiopian dining etiquette (right hand only-originally for sanitation reasons), we ordered. Our reaction to the single gargantuan plate of spicy beef, lamb, fish and chicken presented to us a few minutes later went as follows:

Derek: Wow, those Tibs really are Beg. Or wait, maybe those are the Beg Tibs. OK, I have no idea

Nick: I don't know if we should eat it, it looks too much like a work of art. Fuck it, let's dig in. I guess we should wait for plates though.

D: I think you're supposed to use this bread and just grab the food with it.

N: It feels like a sponge, only thin. It's pretty stretchy. Now that I think about it, I don't know how I feel about this bread. But really, where are the plates?

Needless to say, the plates never came. But we found the unconventional eating style about as fun as it was delicious, especially for a group. The fare was good and not too shocking to a palate well versed in the delights of House of Curries. Similar to Indian food but spicier and with an emphasis on beef, Ethiopian cuisine is hearty and enjoyably messy. Injera is the flat, spongy bread served with, and actually under, the meat and vegetable dishes. We enjoyed all of it, despite the ballooning effect it had on our suffering stomachs.

N: I'm hella full, can you finish this?

D: Sure. This reminds me of 6th grade, when I would finish girls' lunches for them to get them to like me. I'll just swallow the pain along with this burrito I'm making with the meat and spongy-bread at the bottom of the plate.

N: Yeah, that's a good idea. For some reason I'd feel especially terrible wasting Ethiopian food.

D: Me too. Can you help me with this?

N: Damn, you know it's not a burrito when it takes two people to roll it. (rolling ensues) Good God, Derek, can you eat that? Oh no, it's going to

The collapse of our uber-burrito did not tarnish our night. In fact, it provided us with a memory we'll alaways cherish or look back on with horror and shame, more likely. Either way, it seems that memories like these-enhanced by the scrumptious plates-are common occurrences at Finfine, ensuring that Ethiopian cuisine's only a diamond in the rough until your first try.


Build the perfect leftovers burrito with Nick and Derek at [email protected]

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