Thursday, April 3, 2014

Eggs and Waffles, Ethiopian Style

Several years ago, my office had a going away luncheon for a colleague who was planning to move to the West Coast.  We let her pick the restaurant she wanted to eat at.  We hoped for a nice, mainstream type of place that everyone might like.  But she decided on something different.  The result was the WORST MEAL I'VE EVER HAD.

Susan was a bit unusual, but we really didn't expect her to pick an Ethiopian restaurant.  I'm sure there are some really good Ethiopian places to eat, and I'm sure there are very delicious dishes, but what I had to eat that day was awful.  Unfortunately, the restaurant is no longer in business, so I will never have to eat there again.

I had been trying a lot of different kinds of ethnic foods and restaurants in my 20s with several of my coworkers, and I greatly enjoyed several, including a Vietnamese place, a Korean restaurant, a Thai place, and a Mongolian restaurant, but never an Ethiopian.  I was curious enough to try it.

I didn't know what to order, so Susan recommended a few things.  The menu had pictures, which helped.  I decided to order a chicken dish.  The first thing to arrive was a giant greenish-colored waffle-like thing.  It was for the whole table to share.  I was told it was to be used as the eating utensil.  This confused the heck out of me.  Susan explained that you pinch off a piece of the waffle and use it to pick up your food, and you then eat it.

The server brought out everyone's meal one at a time.  Mine arrived first.  It consisted of what looked like a small chicken leg and a hard boiled egg laying on a plate of green glop.  I immediately lost my appetite.  While everyone looked on, anxious to see me try it, all I could think was that I may not be able to swallow any of it.  One of my buddies hollered that it looked more like a rat's leg than a chicken leg.

I waited until a few other people received their plates before I tried my own.  But then it was time.  I slowly tore off a small piece of the "waffle", soaked it in some of the green goop, and tried it.  It wasn't horrible, at least at first, so I tried some more.  I was able to eat it if I didn't look at it, but I also needed to look at it to see what I was doing.  Everyone else, for the most part, raved about the taste of their meals.  I couldn't do that.  It was enough that I was even trying it.  I picked up the "chicken" leg.  It was tender and well marinated, but it didn't smell very good.  I gently chewed it and swallowed.  Well, at least I didn't die.  It had a strange taste, though.  The only thing left to try was the egg.  Now, I like eggs.  I don't eat them very often, but when I do, I like them a lot.  I like scrambled, fried, poached, and even hard boiled.  I picked up the egg, expecting it to taste like an egg.  And it did, sort of.  I could stomach it.  So I finished it in three bites.  By now, I was feeling a little queasy.  The waffle was giving me a strange after taste, and I was slowly getting nauseous.  Rather than prolong the agony, I decided I was finished.  The server took my plate away.  Everyone was being social and chatting away, but I didn't feel like talking.  All I wanted to do was lay down.  Finally, the bill came, we split it up and then headed back to the office.

Once I got outside in the fresh air, I felt a little better.  About halfway, though, I felt a shot of nausea rocket through my stomach, and I quickly found a bush and, um.... lost my lunch, as they say.  Then my breakfast, the snack from the night before, some of last night's dinner, and my socks.  After catching my breath, and popping a couple of Tic Tacs into my mouth, I was fine.  That may have been the first meal I ever had that I was scared of.  It was awful.  I said to myself that was the last time I ever try Ethiopian.  And I've never tried it again.  I'll never forget it.  My all-time worst meal.

Have a great evening, everyone!

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