Sexy Feast: Getting Down and Dirty at Meskel with Kitfo Sex

kitfo500Sometimes it’s fun to accessorize sex. You know: take a trip to Babeland or Lovers Package; fill a cart with lingerie and role-playing uniforms, feathers and vibrators, lubes and flavored massage oils; return home to rip open the packages and start playing.

Then again, sometimes you just want to get raw. No accessories. Just you and your objet du désir, naked, sweat and saliva, grabbing and devouring each other–going at it flesh to flesh. Let’s call it “kitfo sex.”

You’re at Meskel for some Ethiopian food, which is a getting-down-and-dirty type of cuisine. There are no cold, distance-creating utensils. You eat with your hands, a sensual pleasure, tearing a palm-sized piece of injera from the basket. Injera, made from teff flour, is the pancake-like flatbread that itself seems like sex–soft, spongy, and slightly damp, with a slight sour tang you can smell and taste.

With that injera, you go in for a scoop of kitfo (literally “diced into pieces” in Amharic, Ethiopia’s common language). It’s mounded on another piece of pillowy injera (here acting like a bed), a primordial mass of raw, freshly ground beef that has a velvety texture and packs a punch from the addition of mitmita (chili peppers, cardamom, cloves, and more) and other spices. You can sprinkle on some berbere, another spice mixture, for even more heat. The kitfo is rich, almost oily, from the addition of niter kebbeh, or seasoned clarified butter, which Meskel’s owner says is the secret of its seductive taste.

Want to accessorize your bite? You get the Ethiopian cheese lab with the kitfo, and you can add that to your scoop. (The photo shows lentils, lamb tibs, and salad along with the kitfo.) But you’re going for the meat. It’s a carnal thing, and there’s something so right about enjoying the bloody, minerally taste. As the meal wears on and your inhibitions vanish, you start to reach for the well-lubricated injera that’s been below the kitfo, sucking up all the flavors from above. Your fingers and the injera become one, both filled with juices.

You’ve been sharing the plate with your partner all along, because that’s how it’s done, but now you want to actually feed each other. Go ahead. Hand-feeding is an Ethiopian tradition known as gursha. While it can be a basic sign of kindness and respect between friends, gursha is also an act of affection between loved ones.

From there, you’ll soon want to further the experience by feeding each other more than just the kitfo. After all, you’re doing it raw.

First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on August 19, 2010.

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