Final: Egypt vs. Ethiopia

It’s time to decide on another African nation for one of the final thirty-two places in The World Cup of Food.  This week, our match pits the cuisines of Egypt and Ethiopia against each other.  Which do we think is better?

Egyptian dishes on The World Cup of Food:

Ethiopian dishes on The World Cup of Food:

  • Injera, sourdough flatbreads (with Ethiopian cuisine overview)
  • Niter Kibbeh, spiced clarified butter
  • Gomen, stewed greens
  • Doro Wat, chicken stew (with recipe for the spice blend berbere)

When we first drew up the World Cup of Food format (before having tried many of the African foods we’ve since featured) it was our worry that Africa would be dominated by the North African nations.  The Egyptian flavor profile of lemon, cumin, tahini, fava and garbanzo beans, and onions, similar to its neighbors, works for just about any meat, fish, or vegetarian entree.  Somehow Egyptian cooks have managed to create a cuisine that is flavorful, satisfying, and healthy.

We aren’t really sure how exactly to rate Ethiopian food, on the other hand.  First, there’s the injera: Ethiopia is a rare place on this earth where a person eats with a pancake instead of utensils, and we enjoyed what to us was the novelty of that experience.  Second, it is the spiciest cuisine in the world, probably.  In basketball terms, if Ethiopian food is the NBA of hot, then Thai is the Italian league and Mexican is something like the Big West Conference.  We loved the spiciness, but also appreciated that the flavors of the other ingredients were not overshadowed.

When all the votes (both of them!) were tallied, the winner was:

Ethiopia!  We can not wait to make another batch of injera (we’ll make plenty for our leftovers this time) and to try out another delicious stew or two to serve with it.  Ethiopia will face Japan in the round of thirty-two.

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