November 27, 2011

What is Injera? Wat, You Say?

I told you about spending the other day at the Bowen home to celebrate Andy's birthday, but I didn't tell you about the cool way we did that.  Andy is a strange breed, as we say in the South, having lived all over the place and knowing how to speak about 17 million languages.  He married a jewel, a lovely woman from Bolivia named Lizet who cooks like nobody's business.  It's always a very exciting thing in the Hagerman House, when we receive an invitation to dine with the Bowens!!  :)

I won't try to tell you his background, because I'm sure I'll mess something up, but Andy grew up as a missionary kid in Africa.  So Lizet (I say her name with a reverence that demands chills and a pause at the end--she's THAT good of a chef) cooked up an Ethiopian dish that consisted of sourdough pancakes and a platter full of, well, just look at the picture below.  

This is a variety of spicy stews, called "wat" (What?).  Chicken wat is on one side, lamb wat, beef wat, a small salad, pureed squash, beans, potatoes, and couple of hard-boiled eggs.  And here you see Andy explaining to us how one eats this dish.  Those little pancakes are called Injera, and they are a tad bitter.  You wouldn't want to eat them by themselves.  Instead, you unroll a couple of inches, pull off a section, and use it to pinch up a bit of the stuff on the platter and pop it in your mouth.  Normally, the host makes his way to each guest, scooping the first bite and literally feeding the guest from his own hand.  We all politely declined and opted for a non-traditional start--a prayer to thank God for Andy's life.  

You are only supposed to use your right hand, but they had mercy on us and let us eat it however we could.  Needless to say, your hands are filthy when this meal's done!  The men sat on one end of the table because their platters were very spicy, and the women and children sat closer to the "mild" platter.  All except for that one gal--a cajun Louisiana girl that likes her spices.

Afterwards, we had birthday cake that Andy's sons designed and Lizet made.  It was a life-size toolbox with several chocolate tools lying in front of it.  I needed the strawberries and cream inside that cake to cool off my mouth!  Who knew that in Paraguay, we'd have lunch with an American, cooked by a Bolivian, where we learned to eat like Ethiopians? Gotta love this life!


  1. All I can say is "WOW"! Pity you haven't been collecting recipes for me during your adventures. Glad to see you all are being fed well, though. That was quite a plate full.

    Love and prayers,
    A. Donna

  2. Looks delicious! It's great that you guys get to experience such cool things together. Your daughters get to see, taste, and do things most kids (or adults) never will.


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