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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Little Ethiopia

One of the more unique ethnic neighborhoods here in Los Angeles is Little Ethiopia. It's a small cluster of businesses and restaurants on Fairfax south of Wilshire Blvd, in between Olympic and Whitworth.

Like much of Los Angeles, Little Ethiopia is strip of low rise commercial development, surrounded by a neighborhood of older single family homes, and small apartment buildings.

A friend from grad school who grew up in Ethiopia (his parents served as missionaries there) introduced me to this area - and Ethiopian food - some twenty years ago.

Little Ethiopia is actually a mixture of newer Ethiopian and older Jewish owned businesses. It's wild to see Amharic (Ethiopian) script on one store next to Hebrew on the next. It's not so much a clash of cultures as simply existing side by side.

There are half a dozen Ethiopian restaurants up and down Fairfax. Take your pick.

We ended up at Nyala Ethiopian Cuisine. We parked on the street, but they've also got free parking around back.

We got their just when it opened. Most restaurants in Los Angeles start really picking up between 7-8pm.

Nyala has a interesting display of traditional Ethiopian wares. I forgot to check and see if these were for sale, or just to add ambiance. Maybe both.

My wife and I went without the kids. That was a good call. They're not big fans of Ethiopian food (yet). We ordered the vegetarian combo and meet combo. A little something of everything.

So what is Ethiopian food? It's spicy vegetable and meat dishes, usually in the form of a thick stew, called "wot," served atop a large spongy sourdough flatbread, called "injera."

You don't use utensils, instead you just break off a small piece of injura, and then use it to grab some of the food. I'm not sure if Ethiopian food will ever gain the popularity of something like pizza (which was at one time considered "ethnic"), but we found unique and very delicious.

As a Christian living in Los Angeles, I appreciate the opportunity to not only sample different cuisine, but also to interact with people from all over the world. Will I ever travel to Ethiopia? Probably not. Do I have opportunities to interact with people from places like Ethiopia? Yes.(Although I'm the first to admit I don't always take them.)

There are times when I'm rushed, communication is too difficult, or I'm just lazy. The New Testament reminds me that Philip, one of the early followers of Christ, wasn't deterred by interacting with a someone from another culture - and a the destiny of an entire country was changed (Acts 8:26-40).

Christians of all people should be the most welcoming to men and women from other cultures. Easier said than done, I know.

A final look north up Fairfax towards Wilshire Blvd.

Here's the website to Nyala Ethiopian Cuisine:



1 comment:

Aklile said...

Hello Professor David:

You had interesting blog and beautiful pictures regarding little Ethiopia in Los Angeles. We just created Face book group called "Little Ethiopia", mainly for DC businesses. Because, we have a lot to learn from LA Little Ethiopia, one day we will have our own official Designation.

By the way, I post a link to your blog. When you and family have a chance to visit Washington, DC, you might also write about our future "Little Ethiopia" and will learn from your comparative observation.

Thank you,