Sunday, August 30, 2015

Injera Sundays

injera sundays

Every Sunday, we take part in a family tradition involving food. My daughters are Ethiopian, and Ethiopian food is one way we keep a bit of their culture as a central part of our family life. Unless there is something unusual afoot, every single Sunday, we gather around our dining room table and eat injera and wot off a communal plate. It is one of the best parts of our week.

Five years ago, when Z first joined our family, I felt that it was important to provide her with food she was accustomed to. Everything else would be new, and food can be a powerful, healing thing. I know this from my own experience. Before we left for Ethiopia to meet Z for the first time and bring her home with us, I had a cooking lesson for wots (the stews that go on the injera), and I was advised to just buy the injera. It seemed complicated to make it, so I took that advice, but buying it proved to be tricky as well. So I dropped the cooking, and we became regulars at an Ethiopian restaurant instead.

While that worked for awhile (through a cross country move, even - we just found a different restaurant once we changed cities), there was always a nagging sense that we should make Z's home food in our own home. She started asking if we could do it. E was with us by then as well, and I wanted her to grow up eating the food from her home country. So I did it. I bought a book about how to make injera, dusted off the old wot recipes, and took a cooking class with Z to hone my skills. I wasn't very good at it at first, but now it is my joy and pleasure to cook Ethiopian food every week, and it is my family's joy and pleasure to eat it.

Injera Sundays have turned out to be about more than just food or even cultural connection. It's about family connection and the comforts of home as well. While I am cooking, I clean up the kitchen, getting it ready for the week ahead. Everything smells heavenly as it simmers; I rarely make anything other than our favorites now. J and the kids relax and play, and there's a sense of warmth and togetherness to the afternoon that we don't always achieve otherwise.

And even when things don't work out quite that seamlessly - when the kids argue, and no one wants to stop meandering through the kitchen and interrupting my progress, and E has a toilet accident - sitting down together erases all of that. We are together, at our table, sharing our favorite meal. Everything else is forgiven and forgotten.

I think, maybe, that Injera Sundays are magic. In fact, I'm pretty sure that they are.

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