Thursday, May 05, 2005

Gursha = Ethiopian Hospitality

There's something one should know when going to an Ethiopian restaurant and eating Ethiopian food with Ethiopian friends - COME ON AN EMPTY STOMACH!

The other night, I went to Awash Restaurant, which is the "best" Ethiopian restaurant according to my Ethiopian friends. A mix of Ethiopians, two Rwandan, an Indian, a Russian, an American, and a Filipino (me) came to the table. We ordered the typical chicken dish served with lentil beans and spices. It is also placed atop a type of fermented flat bread. I don't remember the names of the dishes since it is hard to pronounce and spell.

It is customary to eat with the hands in Ethiopia. The dish is usually served on one plate and one should eat wrapping the meat and vegetable in the flat bread.

As we ate our dishes in shared plates, one of my Ethiopian friends fed another friend using her hands while raising the food to the mouth. This gesture is called GURSHA. It is a sign of care and hospitality towards a friend or a loved one. Since it is tradition, if you are offered a gursha, you can't refuse it, similar to the "tagay" (homemade drink offered to strangers in Central Luzon) in the Philippines. And it is bad luck to make just one gursha. You at least have to have two. You don't have to return the gesture but I did. It was fun to feed other people. It reminded me of when I used to feed my little brothers. It is also a custom in the Philippines to eat with the hands, especially in rural areas.

Since the bread is fermented, it had a little acidic taste which I didn't like very much. So, I couldn't eat much of the bread and ate less of the meat because I didn't want to start picking it up without the bread. But because of gursha, I was able to finish my dish. My friend fed me through out the night saying I ate like a bird.

You can easily get full depending on how many friends want to offer you a gursha. SO, a word of hungry when you go to an Ethiopian restaurant. 'Coz before you know it, you would be stuffed!!!

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