Last updated on July 1, 2023
Partaking in communal dining by sharing a single plate is a prevalent dietary social custom in Ethiopia, carrying significant meaning within Ethiopian social culture. For instance, if one individual (let’s refer to them as Mr. A) is already dining at a restaurant and their friends arrive, they proceed to wash their hands, place their orders at the counter, and then join Mr. A at his table, regardless of how little food remains on his plate. It is also common for friends to combine their orders onto one large plate, accompanied by a variety of dipping sauces.
Alternatively, they may remove the empty plate and replace it with the newly arrived order, positioning it at the center of the group. They resume eating together while engaging in lively conversations, laughter, and discussions encompassing topics such as life, business, education, religion, and culture. When the bill arrives, they either divide it among themselves or one member, usually the one with a higher income, covers the entire bill, and they depart the restaurant.
Mutual payment for one another’s meals is also a customary practice deeply ingrained in Ethiopian social culture. Inviting someone for lunch, dinner, or coffee/tea hours is a regular custom observed throughout Ethiopia. When traveling from one part of the country to another, individuals are greeted with warm welcomes and smiles, even in situations where the host may not have anything tangible to offer.