Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rachel and Jenn Eat Philadelphia: Abyssinia

**** So I've been informed that "foul" (pronounced fool) is actually an Ethiopian dish.  I feel culturally insensitive.  But oh well. ****

This is the first installment of "Rachel and Jenn Eat Philadelphia."  In reality, this was a restaurant I went to with Eamonn, but that's ok.

See? Totally fine.
Abyssinia is an Ethiopian restaurant two steps from our place.  (I was going to include a map here, but just in case someone I don't know is reading this (unlikely), it's probably not a good idea to show my exact location.)  I had never had Ethiopian food before, but "what the heck?" said I.  Upon arriving, there was a sign on what looked like the front door instructing us to go to the side door to enter.  A surly looking man (obviously not Ethiopian) was smoking on the steps.  He assured us we were heading in the right direction which was not as reassuring as one might believe.  Anyway, it was totally fine inside.  It had cool tables with woven tops and nice paintings on the walls.  They (the proprietors, that is) did a lot with a space that definitely was not meant for a restaurant dining room.

We were seated and given menus.  Now one of my favorite things is misspellings on menus, street signs, billboards, or any public venue.  Generally I see them in foreign businesses.

**Disclaimer!** I'm in no way suggesting that immigrants/foreigners misspell things because they are not intelligent.  Obviously, if they can come into a country where they are not so familiar with the language and create a thriving business, then they are smarter and savvier than me.  It's just that sometimes misspellings can sometimes be very unfortunate and hilarious.  **End of disclaimer!**

So the first misspelling was of jalapeƱo as hallapino. Understandable.

Can you see that?  I know it's tiny.
The second one, however was simply unfortunate.  It was not even a misspelling, but a word swap.  In describing their chicken dish, they swapped "fowl" with "foul."  So there it was.  A photo of their food (which looked pretty good) had the caption, "foul." I had to get a picture.
What a pity.
Distracted by the menu (or by my bossy photo shoot directions), Eamonn somehow ordered raw meat! On the plate, it looked like something in a tomato sauce and did not taste that bad.  Then we realized what it was.  It's funny how once something changes mentally, the whole taste changes.  We took a bite or two, then just couldn't bring ourselves to eat more.  I was proud of myself though!  Public meat enthusiast that I am, I thought it would be hypocritical to avoid it.  Though I'm not going to make raw meat a part of my regular diet, I'm glad I tried it.

One fun thing about Ethiopian is that you are supposed to eat with your hands.  The food is served on a spongy pancake bread which you use to pick up the food and eat it.  I did that for a while, to pick up the lentils and veggies, but inevitably, I fell back into my fork habits.
What can I say? I'm a fork person!
Misspellings and raw meat aside, the food was plentiful, spicy, and pretty good!