Mead: It’s not just for Vikings

Nile Ethiopian
Nile Ethiopian

Next time you ponder ordering a glass of mead, ditch the iron goblets and longships dancing in your head; this fermented honey concoction doesn’t just belong to the Norsemen. Take a gander below the equator and down the menu of Orlando’s Nile Ethiopian Restaurant to discover Ethiopian meads, called tej. These honey wines are seasoned with the powdered leaves and bark of an indigenous Ethiopian buckthorn called gesho – bittering agents acting in the stead of hops and other spices – and they clock in anywhere from 8 to 18 percent ABV. The mead’s higher alcohol contents are often cloaked by its sly, delightful sweetness, so don’t get reckless and guzzle the boozy stuff unless you’re prepared for the next morning’s battering ram. But this fusion of buckthorn and fermented honey served in a berele, or vase-shaped container, stands up robustly to thick, spicy Ethiopian cuisine.

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