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Sharing food for thought with Ethiopian flavours

Daphne Fry, Blue Nile owner Tsedey Kassa, and Marian McGrath packing injera for take-out meals.
Daphne Fry, Blue Nile owner Tsedey Kassa, and Marian McGrath packing injera for take-out meals.
By on April 1, 2022

On Feb. 27, members of St Mary Magdalene Church (Chelsea) and Church of the Good Shepherd (Wakefield) gathered with friends from near and far on Zoom for an Ethiopian dinner in celebration of Black History Month. The guests of honour were the Rev.Canon George Kwari and his wife, Epiphania.

The dinner was a “take-out” meal from the Blue Nile Restaurant in Ottawa. Tsedey Kassa, the owner of the Blue Nile Restaurant, offered both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. She filled 36 orders that included such specialities as Doro Wat (chicken with berbere sauce), Alicha Wot (a beef stew), Michet wot (winced meat with berbere sauce ), Yater Kik ( split pea stew), Yemisir wot (spiced red lentils), and Shuro Wot (chick pea stew). 

Tsedey Kassa serves a meal on injera.
Tsedey Kassa serves a meal on injera.

The meals were accompanied with injera, a staple of Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine that is a sourdough flat-bread made from teff flour. Unlike potatoes or rice, injera has the distinction of being a staple that can be used as both a plate and a utensil. Misgana and Merhawi Haile, originally from Eritrea, joined us on Zoom to demonstrate how to use pieces of the injera to scoop up our meals into our mouths with our fingers, rather than use a knife and a fork. Tsedey Kassa also joined us wearing a beautiful traditional Ethiopian dress. We raved to her about her delicious cooking and thanked her for all her hard work.  

After the meal, Canon Kwari, who is the Rector of St Stephen’s Church in Ottawa, spoke to us about the importance of Black History Month. As someone originally from Zimbabwe, he described his experience of being new to a rural community near Ottawa. In response to an incident incited by one of his neighbours that clearly smacked of racism, Canon Kwari described his struggle with the Gospel of Matthew 22:39: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Through prayer and God’s grace, he overcame the incident and his neighbours rallied around him. He told us how happy he and his family are living in their neighbourhood, and that their children have many friends and enjoy sleep-overs at each other’s homes.

The Rev. Canon Kevin Flynn, the incumbent for the Parish of Chelsea, Lascelles and Wakefield, highlighted the key message of Canon Kwari’s story: “Canon Kwari reminded us that God gives us our neighbours. He spoke personally from his own experience of how difficult it can be to love one’s neighbour when that person has judged you negatively on the basis of the colour of your skin.”

Canon Kwari’s message for Black History Month is that everyone, near and far, is our neighbour, and that Black History Month is not just to be celebrated in February but forever.

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