The Ethiopian dining experience is influenced by the term gursha. What is it? In Ethiopian culture, gursha means feeding one another, sharing the same plate and the same bread. Sharing food, an often dreaded concept in American society, must be embraced. 

Ethiopian cuisine consists of stewed vegetables and meat dishes typically served on top of their iconic flatbread, injera. Injera is thin and tan-colored with a spongey texture made from fermented teff flour–I thought of a buckwheat crepe when I first saw it. Each stew takes up its own section on the massive flatbread. 

Besides the recent wave of Ethiopian restaurants entering the food scene, the cuisine was relatively scarce in Boston. Jamaica Plain is the hub, with two Ethiopian restaurants a few doors down from one another. Both are delicious, but the most nostalgic for me is Blue Nile Cafe.

Blue Nile 

Blue Nile, located on Centre St in JP, introduced me to the concept of gursha and the exceptional cuisine that goes with it. It was a Thursday afternoon and I was 17. My dad and I decided to try a new restaurant, so we went to, what we considered, the best "foodie" area of Boston. I know, hot take. We wanted something "unique", so we decided on Ethiopian and, since Blue Nile had open tables, we went in. 

We were immediately greeted by the only waiter in the restaurant and the owner himself. It was as if we were guests at his home. He asked if we had any questions and of course we were perplexed by the menu. WTF is Misir Wet? We ordered his suggestions and when I saw the heaping plate heading towards us, I knew I made the right choice. Using our hands to rip off pieces of injera and scoop up the steaming stews of split peas, collard greens, and spicy chicken, my dad and I finished the plate. 

Emma Stoloff

Recently, I came back bringing an Ethiopian food newcomer. This time, we sat outside with a barcode instead of a paper menu. The same man warmly greeted us, smiling underneath his mask. Now it was my turn to explain the menu. The colorful stews lining our individual plates. As we finished off our last bites of injera, my friend and I looked up at each other grinning. Although we didn't share the same plate, we still united through the flavors and warmth of the food.

While the pandemic has tore us apart these past few years, food has the power to bring us together. Socially distanced dining will not be departing anytime soon. But the meaning behind gursha will never perish. Gursha is love, connection and contentment. As we wait patiently for the moment we can physically share food with others, experiencing the same sensations on our tongues must be sufficient for now, right?