Jay Francis, Food Explorer: Ethiopian Chili Tacos at Nazareth Cafe on Chimney Rock

Jay Francis prepares to wolf an Ethiopian chili taco.
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Misir wot is an extremely spicy dish that food explorer Jay Francis calls “Ethiopian chili.” It’s a vegetarian stew of split lentils simmered in red chile sauce with ginger and garlic. I watched Francis spread a huge serving of the stuff on injera bread and sprinkle it with beriberi, the Ethiopian chili powder. Then he rolled the whole thing up into an Ethiopian chili taco.

“The Lucy Show at the Museum of Natural Science made me really hungry for Ethiopian food,” Francis told me as we sat at a table in the cozy little restaurant called Nazareth Cafe on Chimney Rock. I helped him mop up the chili with the rest of the injera bread. An order of misir wot goes for $7.99 at Nazareth Cafe and it’s probably the best vegetarian chili I've ever tasted.

The controversial exhibit, "Lucy's Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia," can be seen at the Houston Museum of Natural Science through April 2008. It includes the 3.2-million-year-old hominid fossil called Lucy, a.k.a. “The World’s Oldest Rock Star.”

The Ethiopian community in Houston resents the fact that the repressive Ethiopian government will profit from the museum deal. Some scientists have also opposed the exhibit on the grounds that the fossil will be damaged to some extent in the shipping, if only microscopically.

“All I know is that when you get out of the museum, you are going to be looking for some Ethiopian food,” says Francis. – Robb Walsh

Nazareth Cafe, 6617 Chimney Rock, 713-218-9883

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