Culture

Eritrea is extremely cultural, Within Eritrea's regions there are about 7 different dialects (not including English or Italian), and in each region you will notice the difference in fashion, hair, lifestyles and homes.

Travelling through the capital city, one can grasp a feel for the roots that Italy had laid behind. There are many small cafes serving beverages common to Italy.

Once you leave he capital and enter a village or small town, you wil notice that the culture is totally different, the Italian colonial influences never actually took hold, rather than coffee shops, the women in the house would always make the coffee themselves from scratch.

Coffee is something of a delicacy and to be asked to take coffee is a special invitation, a symbol of hospitality, to honor a guest. The Eritrean coffee, 'bun', pronounced as 'boon' is always made by a woman, who washes the green beans and roasts them in a pan called a 'menkeshkesh'. When the beans are dark enough, the pan with the smoking beans is passed around and one fans the smoke so as to appreciate the aroma of the freshly roasted beans. The beans are ground and put on a small rush mat (mishrafat) which is used as a funnel to pour the coffee into its pot (jebena). Water is added and the coffee brought to the boil over a charcoal brazier. It is shameful to let the coffee boil over. The hostess sets the mood by burning incense. When all is ready sugar is put in the small cups (finjal) and the coffee is strained into them. Popcorn is eaten at the same time.

If you have accepted an invitation for coffee be prepared to wait an hour for it to be completed. It is rude to leave early. Standard practice is that you must have three cups and compliment the taste ('tu um'= delicious), after which you are able to leave whenever you wish. The first round of the Eritrean coffee ceremony is called 'awol'. The second and third round 'kale eyti' and 'bereka', and the fourth round is of the coffee ceremony is called 'derdja'.

(Italic text taken from website listed in Bibliography)


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