There are so many beautiful pockets in Los Angeles that, if you’re not careful, can go undiscovered. Last night, I visited Little Ethiopia, which is somewhere around the middle of the sprawling metropolis. It’s only 6+ miles from my house, but I rarely visit it. I get too caught up in my own little world.
There are over a dozen Ethiopian restaurants on a 3 or 4-block stretch and, as far as I know, they’re all good. In fact, everyone has his favorite. Eric swears by Merkato. Rima takes her parents to Nyala. I went on a date, once, to another restaurant whose name escapes me and, while I like to forget many of the finer details of the evening, I do remember my date claimed it was “the best.” Last night, though, I was meeting my girlfriends at Meesob.
I drove down Fairfax in search of green neon and twinkly lights, parked across the street and crossed with two well-dressed Ethiopian girls. Kris and Brittany were already waiting for me, ready to order. We ended up with a table covered in injera topped with sizzling grilled beef and chicken, mashed peas, collard greens, lentils and green salad. Everything was delicious.
I appreciate the slowness of Ethiopian food — tearing off pieces of injera, then scooping up a morsel of grilled beef or sopping up some mashed peas. It reminds me of a restaurant in the Philippines called Kamayan, where dishes are served on banana leaves and you use your bare hands as utensils, molding rice into a bite-sized portion and sliding pieces of grilled meat off skewers.
There’s something calming about eating like that. You can’t shovel the food into your mouth or finish it in a few big bites. You have to take your time.