The Caledonian Road in Islington, London, runs north from near the side of King’s Cross Station. It takes its Scottish-themed name from the fact that it was once the location of the Royal Caledonian Asylum, which housed the children of poor Scottish migrants to the metropolis. Nowadays, though, the street feels a lot more Ethiopian than Scottish. The last time I checked, there were at least five Ethiopian restaurants operating on or near to the street: the Addis Ababa at numbers 40-42, the Marathon at 193a, the Merkato at 196, the Menelik at 277 and the Kobeb at 45 Roman Way, just off the street’s northern end. I’ve eaten in three of them and they’ve all been different shades of ‘very good’.
If you haven’t yet eaten Ethiopian food (and if you like your cuisine to be spicy), you should track down your nearest Ethiopian restaurant and eat some immediately. It’s delicious – its the best food on offer in the Horn of Africa, if not in all eastern Africa. Kai-wat, doro-wat, kitfo, tibs… The very thought of such delicacies makes me dribble at the mouth, just as Homer Simpson does when he thinks of Duff beer.
Talking of which, Ethiopian beer isn’t bad, although the expatriate Ethiopian restaurants seem only to have St George, which I think is one of the blander options.
St George is as important a figure in Ethiopia as he is in England and his image is everywhere there, often depicted slaying the dragon – as he is on the St George beer labels. In Ethiopia, though, St George is always shown to be black. I find that ironic, considering the English far-right’s fixation with the saint. (There was at one time a fascist organisation called the League of Saint George, and the St George’s cross has often been brandished at marches by the English Defence League, British National Party and National Front.)