Storing in bulk (normalizing hoarding)

Something we do here in Ethiopia is keep bulky sacks of grains in our house. If you’ve ever been to any house here and were a nosy enough guest, you may have found such sacks in the kitchen, living room, dining area, behind the curtains or anywhere really. They’ll be there.

The pile could get even bigger whenever people fear an oncoming conflict or war.

These grains include Teff-for making the soft, delicious injera-and everything we cook to put on top of it, like legumes and Shiro.

Many households make their own mixtures here, and there’s no fixed recipe. People just pass down their knowledge across generations.

That’s one of the main reasons each ‘Ethiopian dish’ like Doro wett or Shiro could taste drastically different each time you taste it. But since we don’t have industrial grinders in our houses, we dry up our spices and line up in local factories to get our grains grinded.

A lot of folk make their maids do that job for them. But my mom goes there and gets her grains grinded herself. She had seen the factory employees steal the ‘better’ grains for themselves and sneak in cheaper grains into their absent clients’ heap.

And my mom ain’t playing with her food. So, she’d finish up grinding her well-proportioned spices and grains, get help loading the bulky sacks on to a Bajaj, and take it all home.

Those bags are such a pain to carry home-even in teams of two or three. But the food we make from them lasts many months. And I think having such heavy bags is less wasteful than having so many little containers to keep food in.

And as long as that works, there’s no need to complain about the bulk.

-w

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