Food is such a wonderful thing.

It keeps our bellies full and our tempers low, and, apparently, we need it to stay alive. Now that’s all fine and dandy, but we live in an insanely comfy 21st century society now, staying alive is the last thing I worry about in the daily drudge of a schedule that I’ve got going along. Nowadays, instead of eating raw sabertooth meat off a rack of ribs that’s been drying in the sun for about three weeks, I can just drive about half a mile in any direction from campus to get something to eat for a relatively sane price (so long as my wallet’s not hurting too bad). But you know what? There’s so much food out there to eat, and I don’t even know if half of it is any good. So, in an effort to give all of the workaholic students at UR a guide of places to go and kill roughly three hours through food and drink, I’ve taken the initiative of writing about all of the little places where I like to eat. So here’s to you, CT Eats, my sickly love-child.

This week, the Campus Times’ residential funny-man, Humor Editor Eric Franklin, and I went on an excursion to Abyssinia, an Ethiopian restaurant on Mt. Hope Avenue. A first for me, Eric recommended the idea at the previous week’s Campus Times  meeting. If you’ve never eaten Ethiopian food before, here’s the big idea: The food consists of different kinds of stews and meats (like chicken and lamb) laid out in piles on a large, sponge-like flatbread called Injera. The server hands you a basket of smaller rolls of Injera for you to scoop up your piles. For our meal, we ordered one of the Abyssinia specials, along with two glasses of their Ethiopian Honey Wine (called Tej). First came the wine, which was absolutely delicious and perfect for getting any suburban mother to start gossiping about Jessica from HR.

While Eric and I sat and waited for our special, we sipped our wine and began talking about Eric’s journeys during his semester abroad. Eric, a man who looks like a viking with a beard that would make any grown man feel severely emasculated, chose to study in Sweden for a semester. He talked about an interesting trend he noticed, where Swedish students wouldn’t spend much time getting to know the abroad students. Apparently, this is  a direct result of a cultural shyness that exists in Sweden, where the students know that since the abroad students won’t be around for very long, they find it too energy-expending to form bonds with them.. Meanwhile, the abroad students made an effort to get to know each other, specifically because they would only be around for a semester, and might not see each other again. It was interesting to get the chance to talk in depth with someone about experiences with others in our years as students, and those experiences were shared easily through the power of the delicious honey wine we had.

Our special was a wonderfully large thing, served on a massive plate. There was spinach, spicy beef, grilled lamb, and two incredibly tender chicken drumsticks laid out in their own little pools of stew along the large Injera. The drumsticks were amazing, they practically melted like butter the moment you took a bite out of them. Eric and I wasted no time scooping up portions from our favorite piles and continuing our conversation. Through the sweet aromas of the various meats in front of us, we talked about his journey to a hellish dive bar in Pasadena, California. Eric described a strange locale where the walls were painted with fierce depictions of Satanic demons like Beelzebub and Lucifer, while the music playing sounded like Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” The nature of the style that comes with consuming Ethiopian food made it relatively easy to settle into a relaxed mood, which made us open to talking politics. I can’t even remember how much time we spent on the topic, but it was insane how deeply we got into it. Take it as you will, but I feel as though that speaks to the power of Ethiopian food.

I gotta say, I was a bit wary about the idea of Ethiopian food at first, but I think I can safely say that it’s good conversation food. Here’s to another night at Abyssinia, because I’ll surely be going back.

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