Eritrea

When I think of Eritrea, I think of Asmara, a restaurant in Central Square, a neighborhood in Cambridge, Mass, that I lived in during two periods of my life, first in my later college years and again when Derek and I moved in together. The restaurant was there during both periods, and was where I had Eritrean/Ethiopian food for the first time as a college junior. Derek and I also had one of our final meals there before moving from Cambridge to Buffalo, a fitting end to my days as a Central Square resident. (Even if Derek and I return to the Boston area someday, it’s doubtful that we’ll be able to afford the Central Square rents, which always seem to be increasing.)

But, I digress. Even though I’ve long been familiar with Asmara the Central Square restaurant, I hadn’t learned a lot about its namesake, the Eritrean capital also called Asmara, or about Eritrean culture in all that time. I had assumed Eritrea has similar food to Ethiopia, because Asmara the restaurant’s menu is similar to the menus of Ethiopian restaurants I’ve also tried. We’ve already globetrotted to Ethiopia on a detour over two years ago, so here was our chance to zero in on Eritrea.

Continue reading

Equatorial Guinea

img_0412

¡Hola from Equatorial Guinea! Aside from being the only Spanish-speaking nation in Africa, this country is also unique because its capital city lies on a large island, Bioko, located off the coast of Cameroon. Equatorial Guinea is infamous for being one of the worst governed (and least visited) countries on the planet, but this weekend we hoped to learn about its charms as well as its difficulties. Continue reading

Egypt

img_0064

صباح الفل  Sabah il-full from Egypt! This colloquial greeting literally means “morning of jasmine” in Egyptian Arabic. With a history spanning more than twelve thousand years, Egypt is one of the oldest and most populous nations in the world. Today, evidence of its global influence is easy to find in Buffalo’s historic Forest Lawn Cemetery (above) where we discovered not only a stately sphinx but also dozens of pointed obelisks rising high into the air. Continue reading

Djibouti

img_0304

Bonjour from the Horn of Africa, where a snowy Buffalo weekend brought us face to face with the music, food, and history of Djibouti.  This globetrot marked our second visit to the continent’s easternmost region after our detour to Ethiopia several years ago. A former colony of France, Djibouti is a small and predominantly Muslim country located on the shores of the Gulf of Aden. We were excited to discover not only how the country balances its African, French, and Arabic influences but also what makes it unique. Continue reading

Côte d’Ivoire

Bonjour from the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, also known (in English) as the Ivory Coast. After gaining its independence from France in 1960, this West African nation became one of the region’s ecomonic success stories under the lengthy presidency of Félix Houphouët-Boigny. During the last twenty years, however, Côte d’Ivoire has been rocked by several civil wars and widespread poverty. We were therefore excited to learn not only about the country’s food and culture but also about the steps it has taken to become a prosperous and peaceful nation once again.

image

Continue reading

Congo

Bonjour from the Congo! Bonjour from the Congo, again! In case you did not know, Africa is home to both the Republic of the Congo and its larger neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To some extent, these independent countries each have their own histories and cultures. There’s not much in Boston that relates to either of them, however, so we decided to take the unprecedented step of visiting two destinations in the very same weekend. Allons-y! Continue reading

Comoros

Bonjour from the Comoros! Comoros is comprised of three islands off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean. As you may have already guessed, it was once a French colony. Like many of France’s former African colonies, it has struggled with political instability since gaining independence. We were curious, though, to learn what makes Comoros unique.

IMG_0856

Continue reading

Chad

Lalê! This weekend found us in Chad, which just so happens to be the northern neighbor of our last country, the Central African Republic, and also shares a border with Cameroon, which we’ve also covered very recently. Like the C.A.R. and Cameroon, Chad is a former French colony. All three countries also use the Central African CFA franc as currency (along with three other nations we haven’t visited yet). In researching foods, we found many common ingredients, including millet, tropical fruits, peanuts and rice.

image

Of course, we want to know what makes Chad unique, but it’s also nice recognizing similarities in countries we visit.

Continue reading

Central African Republic

image

Balao! Our second globetrot of the new year brought us from the West African archipelago of Cabo Verde to a republic located in Central Africa. Its name? Why, the Central African Republic, of course! While New England boasts one of the largest communities of immigrants from Cabo Verde in the world, we didn’t have similar luck with the CAR. As you will see, we put our globetrotting skills to work nonetheless and learned as much as we could from afar.

Continue reading

Cabo Verde

Let’s be upfront: we made a mistake. The A to Z list of countries we’ve been following lists this African country as “Cape Verde,” the fourth “C” country, in between Canada and Central African Republic. But in 2013, the country’s government decided that the name of the country should be as it is in its official language, Portuguese: Cabo Verde, and should not be translated into other languages. So rather than kicking off the Cs with Cambodia, we really should have begun with Cabo Verde. Desculpe a todos–sorry, everyone. But here we are now, and Feliz Ano Novo! 

image

Cabo Verde is a cluster of volcanic islands off the coast of Western Africa. The former Portuguese colony is one of the most stable and developed nations in Africa. There’s also a sizable population of Cape Verdeans in New England–approximately 50,000 in Massachusetts.

Continue reading