For Mother’s Day, I wanted my family to try Ethiopian food again because we all really enjoyed it when I made everyone try it for my birthday in January. Addis Red Sea was our first Ethiopian restaurant. My husband and I used to live in the South End in Boston and it was walking distance from our place. We loved the cozy ambiance and the warm hospitality there. The food wasn’t spicy and I suspected that it was toned down for a white palette.
My Mother’s Day request was to try a different Ethiopian restaurant as I knew there was at least one in Cambridge and another in Jamaica Plain, both about a half hour drive from where we live. We tend to stay in a rut and eat (or get take out) from our usual suspects so this was a challenge worthy of a Mother’s Day pampering. And, that’s it. That’s all I wanted. In keeping with less materialism and clutter a la Marie Kondo, I did not want any presents.
My husband found Asmara and because they do not take reservations, the kids were under strict orders to be home and ready to go at 5:30 pm on Sunday. The timing was perfect as we got the last *free* parking spot in the nearby lot down the street when we arrived at 6 pm.
It was good planning because the restaurant quickly filled up! I wasn’t familiar with the country of Eritrea but my husband who studied political science at U.C.L.A. and the University of Hawaii recalled from class that there was a 20-year civil war between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
I wanted to learn more.
Eritrea is a northeast African country on the Red Sea coast. It shares borders with Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti. The capital city, Asmara, is known for its Italian colonial buildings, like St. Joseph’s Cathedral, as well as art deco structures. Italian, Egyptian and Turkish architecture in Massawa reflect the port city’s colorful history. from Wikipedia
Eritrea’s population of 6 million people is made up of Tigrinya (55%), Tigre (30%) and some smaller ethnic groups. Capital and largest city is Asmara, situated on the northwestern edge of the Eritrean highlands. Spoken languages are Tigrinya, Arabic, and English. from Nations Online
Eritrea remains a one-man dictatorship under President Isaias Afewerki, now in his 26th year in power. It has no legislature, no independent civil society organizations or media outlets, and no independent judiciary. The government restricts religious freedoms, banning all but four groups.
Every Eritrean must serve an indeterminate period of “national service” after turning 18, with many ending up serving for well over a decade. Some are assigned to civil service positions, while most are placed in military units, where they effectively work as forced laborers on private and public works projects.
Largely because of the oppressive nature of the Isaias rule and the prolonged national service, about 12 percent of Eritrea’s population has fled the country. In 2016 alone, 52,000 escaped, according to the latest United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report. from Human Rights Watch
I did not know that Eritrea is Africa’s North Korea. The food is similar to Ethiopian and Asmara has a more fiery and authentic take than Addis Red Sea. My family loved it and has been asking to return!
739 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
Eritrean & Ethiopian meals are shared & scooped up with injera bread at this homey, family-run spot.
p.s. Here are a few children’s books on Eritrea.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.