Americans are pretty adventurous when it comes to dining out — whether we have Mexican food cravings, are in the mood for regional fare at a Chinese, Thai, Korean, or Japanese restaurant, or just want a traditional Italian meal. One cuisine that may be less popular, though, is Ethiopian food; it didn’t even make the list of the most popular international foods in the United States, according to Chef’s Pencil, which came up with the rankings based on people’s Google searches. And this, according to “Top Chef Family Style” co-host Marcus Samuelsson, is a big missed opportunity to try a unique cuisine.
The Ethiopian-born, James Beard Award winner told Mashed in an exclusive interview that food from Ethiopia, and the continent of Africa in general, will delight Americans — they just need to give it a try! “The great thing with Ethiopian food is … there are many Ethiopian restaurants … in every major city in America,” Samuelsson said, further explaining the staples. “We eat with this big sourdough pancake. And we eat with our hands.” For your first time ordering, Samuelsson recommends a “Doro Wat stew with chicken … it’s a little bit spicy, but it’s fun to break that bread [with] chicken.” If the idea of eating a pancake (traditionally called injera) and stew with your hands is off-putting, Samuelsson is quick to remind that some of the most popular American foods aren’t eaten with a fork and knife, either. “Americans eat with their hands constantly! We eat hot dogs, we eat pizza, we eat tacos,” he said. “We eat so many great meals with our hands.”