Arif for Ethiopian. Great food, but not the only reason you never see an overweight Ethiopian

Arif was one of our early adventures, and it hit all the criteria – 1) Ethiopian patrons (one who on my first visit had to explain to me how to eat the various selections, which resembled a collection of colorful stews, with injera (a spongy, slightly sour, flatbread) 2) located in inexpensive strip mall with other Ethiopian restaurants in the vicinity (all are east of I 75), and 3) an owner/chef who speaks limited English, but is charming, and diners eager to share their love of the food.

We’ve had both the vegetarian plates and the beef tip plates, and recommend both. About half the country is Ethiopian Orthodox, which (along with the Muslim population) greatly influences the vegetarian choices.

From Catholics and Culture:

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church requires lay people over age 13 to fast for at least 180 days a year (monks and other religious are asked to fast for about 250 days a year) including most Wednesdays and Fridays. Advent fasts last for 40 days, and Lenten fasts last for 56 days. The Orthodox Church describes this regimen as one of the “longest and most austere fasts in the world… Fast generally implies one meal a day to be taken either in the evening or after 2:45 p.m. with total abstention from meat, fats, eggs and dairy products. Instead they use cereals, vegetables and other types of food devoid of fats.

We now know why Ethiopians are so fit.

Embarrassingly, my visits to Arif haven’t included coffee, which may well have originated there thanks to the goat herder Kaldi and certainly is celebrated.

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