American food uses salt and pepper.
Italians use garlic.
Indian food requires tumeric.
In Ethiopia? It’s berbere. And you find it everywhere.
Berbere (pronounced “bur-bur-ay”) is a special Ethiopian blend of spices, including chili peppers, ginger, garlic, and other spices. It’s hot, but it’s not a kick-you-in-the-teeth kind of hot. It’s more like a warmth that fills your mouth and your belly. Unless you use too much. Then it can be a bit much.
Kind of like a good Scotch, I guess.
It’s used in almost everything. It is served in your breakfast. And in your lunch. And in your dinner. There’s even a paste that’s made out of the spice and you dip sliced bread as an appetizer. I wouldn’t be surprised if they figured out a way to use it in a dessert. Come to think of it, it might be worth trying with chocolate. I mean, you can pair other peppers with chocolate. And that’s considered a delicacy. So why not give berbere and chocolate a try? What’s the worst that could happen?
I have to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of berbere at first. But, man, it has certainly grown on me. I love coming into our house after we’ve had Ethiopian food and the aroma of berbere just hits you in the face. It’s such a comforting feeling, honestly.
Now we mix it in foods that aren’t even Ethiopian. We’ve had it in eggs, tuna salad, and canned ravioli. And it’s a really good way to add some flavor to some store-bought spaghetti sauce.
It’s such a versatile spice, but it’s a distinctly Ethiopian flavor. It permeates everything. And I love it more than I ever thought I would.