Processed Meat, Pre-prepared Traditional Dishes Grace Holiday Tables





Bezawit Asfaw, a young married resident of Addis Abeba, is looking forward to the coming Ethiopian New Year, celebrated on September 11, 2018. But she is less enthusiastic about the work that involves lavish preparations and complicated cooking methods of make the traditional dishes.

That is why Bezawit visited Shoa Supermarket before the holidays.

“Making dorowottakes so long, and it is so stressful. I buy chicken that’s already been de-feathered, plucked and cut-up,” says Bezawit. The store offers both cut up and de-feathered chickens and gutted chicken options.

The chicken takes her less time to clean and prepare it for the doro wot, the traditional chicken stew. She has also ordered difodabo, baked round bread, another holiday staple, from a local shop.

“It’s made my life easy,” she adds.

Anticipating this demand, Shoa is offering a 15pc discount on chicken meat, and customers have not been disappointed. The store shelves are emptied by the middle of the day, according to Henok Tesfaye, deputy manager of Shoa’s Megenagna branch.

This is a cultural shift from what takes place in traditional households. During the holyday Preparing doro wot; brewing tej, cultural honey wine; baking bread; and preparing the Ethiopian coffee ceremony have long been hallmarks of the holiday.

“The whole process of buying the chicken, slathering it at home, cleaning it, preparing the stew, honey wine, baking the bread and the rush of cleaning up the house are what the holiday spirit is all about,” says Fikirte Tafesse, a mother of two, uninterested with the new trend.

Chicken stew that includes all the edible parts of a chicken, after being buttered, spiced and cooked is sold for 800 Br. The only thing that needs to be added are the eggs, which are put in the stew just before serving. 



But as the culture relaxes, and more households are formed with just two breadwinners, the new businesses are flourishing.

Mathias Berhanu, a poultry dealer, is one of them. He sells chicken in Megenagna for prices that range between 200 Br and 250 Br, while it retails in the marketplace in the range of 200 to 350 Br depending on size. For an additional 20 Br, he sells plucked and gutted chickens.

“People do not have the time nor space these days to kill and clean the chickens. That is why most prefer to buy them slaughtered, de-feathered and gutted,” he says.

Some people live in rented houses, so their landlords do not allow them to mess up the premises, while others live in small house, according to Mathias.

Medhanit Ahao, who is in her mid-20s, agrees. She bought a chicken for 200 Br from Mathias and was getting it processed there before she took it home.

“I just do not have the time to do all of these things at home,” she says. “It’s not just the preparation but the resulting waste and foul odor that is the problem.”

People prefer freshly slaughter chickens instead of buying it already processed and packed in supermarkets, according to Eyerus Getachew, another poultry dealer at Megenagna.

“It’s also fresh and tasty when it is not refrigerated,” she says. “Added to this is knowing that the chickens are handled according to religious sanctions. That’s a plus.”

A single baked Difo Dabo bread sells for up to 195 Br, while Hibist, steamed bread, goes for 205 Br. Tapu offers people the choice of butchered meat or live goats, sheep and oxen that they can slaughter at home.



The poultry dealers say that the chickens are slaughtered sanitarily and that it is not any less clean than preparing it at home. But some consumers are reserved about the hygiene, given the environment where the process takes place.

Instead, they prefer to get their slaughtered chickens at places like Tapu Prepared Food.

Chicken stew that includes all the edible parts of a chicken, after being buttered, spiced and cooked is sold for 800 Br. The only thing that needs to be added are the eggs, which are put in the stew just before serving.

“Since our products are in demand during the holiday season, we do not offer discounts. But we reduce prices during periods when we do not expect a large number of customers,” says Getaneh Melkamu, the marketing manager.

Difo Dabo, the traditional bread, is also baked and sold at Tapu. When holidays are around the corner, orders double.

“However much we have tried to get prepared for the holiday season, we are always staggered by the size of the demand,” says Yemataw Kibret, human resources manager at Tapu.

A single baked Difo Dabo bread sells for up to 195 Br, while Hibist, steamed bread, goes for 205 Br. Tapu offers people the choice of butchered meat or live goats, sheep and oxen that they can slaughter at home.

Another establishment that offers similar products is Fresh Corner.

“We butcher sheep according to customers preferences, and they can either take a whole sheep or the meat sections that they want,” says Clara Tewelde, a marketing officer at Fresh Corner.

A single kilogram of sheep meet can set one back 170 Br.

While the likes of Fresh Corner and Tapu specialise in selling almost entirely prepared traditional holiday foods, Bulgariya Werk Restaurant is taking the whole holiday food affair a step further.

“Even though most people would rather prepare the end-result at home, we have many customers who prefer to order mesobfrom us,” says Melkam Mekuriya,  manager of the family-owned Bulgariya Werk.

A restaurant that has been in the business for two decades, their mesob offering includes various traditional holiday cuisines already prepared and cooked at 120 Br a dish.

While customers for these businesses are growing, health professionals warn that enforcement of food safety regulations should be given strict attention.

“The health conditions of slaughter houses should be known,” Kemal Umer (MD), medical director at Melka Odda Hospital in Shashemene, says. “Otherwise, customers could be exposed to dangerous diseases that are transmittable from sweat, saliva or by means of cuts on the skin.”

He recommends boiling or strictly cleaning the products before cooking them.

“The health statuses of the slaughter houses should be checked properly, and consumers should know that their foodstuffs come with a level of risk,” says Kemal.

 

By HIKMA AHMED
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER





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