The Bear Necessities: Exploring Ethnic Eats

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Hi there Brunonians! My name is Michelle Zabat, a friendly first-year from marvelous Michigan. From fitness to food to fun ways to feel your best, The Bear Necessities is here to give you the inside scoop on staying healthy and happy here at Brown. 

It’s no secret that one of Brown’s outstanding qualities is that it’s located right in Providence. In fact, its location is one of the big reasons I decided to come study here. I love the feel, the atmosphere, and the culture of big cities, and these things mean that there is never a shortage of things to do! One of the coolest things about Providence is the wide racial and ethnic diversity that the city boasts. My favorite way to enjoy this variety? Ethnic eats, of course!

My wonderful mentors from Filipino Alliance were kind enough to take me out to dinner a few days ago, and although we were originally planning on grabbing sushi, we decided to be a little bit more adventurous that evening. Located just a few blocks from campus on the lovely Wickenden Street, Abyssinia is a tiny little place that serves up big Ethiopian flavor. The outside of the restaurant is fairly nondescript, but step inside and you’ll find a cozy, cute Ethiopian vibe inside. None of us had ever had Ethiopian food before, so we decided to give it a shot.

If you’ve never had Ethiopian food before either, you’re in for a treat. You’re greeted with a bowl of fresh salty-sweet popcorn for the table to share, which was a nice change from the usual bread basket you find in many restaurants. Before your food comes, you’re given steaming-hot damp towels to wipe your hands with in preparation for digging in.

One of the most unique things about Ethiopian cuisine is that utensils are not used; instead, you use your hands to scoop up deliciously-spiced, saucy meats and vegetables with injera, a traditional fermented flatbread. As an appetizer, we ordered injera chips with a delicious spiced yogurt sauce that was perfect to kick off the meal. For the main course, we ordered a meat and vegetable combination platter to share that came with chicken, beef, and a huge variety of vegetables–beans, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, lentils, beets, collard greens, and more. Each section had its own unique seasoning and sauce, and they were all wonderfully unique but satisfyingly cohesive.

There are packets of little wet wipes on the tables to clean your hands off afterwards. Although it’s delicious, it’s also messy! Even though the combination platter was touted for two on the menu, the three of us were absolutely stuffed before we even came close to finishing everything on the plate. Bring friends and split the cost for an affordable, amazing dinner!

One of my goals for this semester is to explore the Providence dining scene more. It’s a little bit difficult because we have to be on meal plan as first years, so extra money for eating out is tight, but the few times I’ve gone have been wonderfully worth it. Let me know if you have any suggestions for my next culinary venture!

Michelle

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