By Rebecca Fisseha
Selamta – I never could turn down a bargain meal, so on my most-recent trip to Addis Ababa, I decide to sign up for an affordable citywide food tour that promises a local experience. Never mind the fact that I have my choice of home-cooked food with extended family scattered throughout the capital; I understand the tour’s promise to mean I’ll get to sample exactly the kinds of places that said family would deem too dodgy or too local for my delicate diaspora digestive tract. Plus, I figure it will take me back to when, as teens on school break, my loitering cousins and I used to make do in the city with a very limited budget.
The company behind the tour, Go Addis, emerged in 2013 through word of stomach from founders Eliza Richman and Xavier Curtis to their expat friends and now far beyond. It began as a side project shortly after Eliza moved from Washington, D.C., to work in wildlife conservation and temporarily live with Lemmy, her former nanny and the woman responsible for Eliza’s love of Ethiopian food. Six months later, Xavier followed, also to work in an NGO.
“In our spare time, we wandered the streets and went into restaurants that looked busy,” says Eliza. Soon, they were giving impromptu food tours and recommendations. “We realized that the food tour model would work perfectly in Ethiopia. The food is so good and well known in the world, but it’s intimidating.”