Salambo discovering Ethiopia
Like many foreigners here I came back from Europe with two suitcases full of food, items difficult to find here like chocolate, parmesan cheese, nutella, capers, balsamic vinegar and so on. One of the suitcases was so heavy (35 kilos), that it was rejected at check-in and I consequently had to spread its content into other bags right in the middle of the airport. Of course, I forgot the most needed item at the moment: white sugar. There has been a sugar shortage in Addis for about a month, and I completely forgot about it when travelling. People here say that it is traders speculating on sugar prices. There isn’t actually a commodity shortage, they just keep it in store until prices go up, and then release it on to the market.
The supply chain in shops and supermarkets tend to be quite erratic. We can find some goods for a while, and then they suddenly disappear from the shelves. For instance, at first, we could find Toblerone chocolate easily, all the supermarkets were selling it, and from one day to the next it disappeared. We haven’t seen it since. The same happened with some types of biscuits and cereals. People who have lived here for a while advise us to stock up on goods when they appear in the shops, as we may not find them again later. I begin to see that it is true. On the whole, buying food in Addis can be a relatively complicated exercise. For instance, if we want fresh sea fish, we have to call someone who organises weekly deliveries from Djibouti (an hour flight from Addis), where it is bought on the local market. We put the order in, and the fish gets delivered fresh every Thursday. The same with river fish, we can get fresh trout from the Bale mountains (south of Addis), where a French man started to farm them. Again, all we need to do is order them, and every other Friday, they get delivered. Not only we have to somehow change our cooking and eating habits, but we need to plan forward much more for purchasing food…an extra load on the mind!