Sishu, hamburgers and more in Addis

When we were in Italy, my kids never ate hamburger. I mean, they never ate hamburger in the fast food chains: my fight against junk food was fierce and resolute. I still remember Marvelous Girl at a birthday party, organized in a famous fast food restaurant, that after tasting some french fries told out loud: “This is not quality food!”.

In Addis I don’t have the problem to fight against the multinational companies of fast food: here they are not yet arrived. So the idea to eat an hamburger could be the occasion to taste it in a milk bun with a wonderful homemade barbecue sauce and onion in a cosy environment, where also the children can enjoy the food and have fun. This place is Sishu.


At the moment, Sishu is closed due to legal issues regarding the house. The management is planning to open in a new location soon. If you want to receive updates, you can write to


Why I chose it

The food is good, the ingredients are fresh and you can see the cooks working in the open kitchen while they prepare the dishes. The place is relaxing and inviting, you have books and games at your disposal and the children can play in a room full of toys made of papier maché (there is also a real castle to climb on!). For me, it is the ideal place for a weekend brunch.

What I usually eat

…or better, what I don’t eat? Hamburger, cheese burger, barbecue burger, tuna sandwich, omelet, salads, all accompanied with a fresh lemonade.

The strawberry jam is a must: they serve it with omelet or scrambled eggs accompanied with toasted bread, but I could eat a jar simply with a spoon! Unfortunately they don’t sell jam to take away, but they are planning to do so.

What I don’t like

To park the car in the small courtyard is often a challenge. During the weekend, if you arrive after noon is almost impossible to find a table: better to make a reservation calling 0920 061063 or 0911 145358.

Where it is

Sishu is near the national bank, on Churchill road. If you come from the railway station, you have to turn left at the junction of the national theater, on the road that goes up beside the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (the round building). Then you turn left on the first road (you have the Ministry of Building and Construction at your left) and again left on the first street. You find Sishu at your right. The restaurant is now closed,  because it is moving to a new location (still unknown, but stay tuned, I will post updates).


The welder with sunglasses

This morning a man came to settle our gate because a metal bar came off. He arrived at my place with a wheelbarrow containing his tools: a hammer, some pieces of iron and a welder.

This one.

When I saw it I ran into the house to get my camera, deeply convinced that the whole operation had to be documented. And in fact it was worthwhile.

To connect the welding to the power in my living room, there was no extension. But here no one loses heart for so little: with a few pieces of electric wire, connected with knots and secured with pieces of fabric, the problem was solved.

Of course, such a link did not have a plug to be inserted into the socket at the end: when I made him notice that, the welder looked at me with pity and stuck two bare wires into the plug on the wall.

After some sparks and three power failure, the welder, elegantly wearing a pair of sunglasses for protection, completed its work and the gate looked as good as new.

Just for the record, the plug is now a little melted …


Selam children’s village

Tomorrow I will have some friends dining at home, so I decide to prepare for them my famous coffee panna cotta . So, I have to go to Selam’s shop to buy fresh cream, the only one I found here in Addis that is not sour and that does not make my desserts taste like a cow’s cheese.

Why I chose it

For the freshness and the quality of the products they sell (I have had to accept the idea of buying dairy stuff without a production or expiry date) and for the fact that I make a good action while shopping.

What I usually buy

Fresh cream, yoghurt and, if I am very lucky, the best butter in town. Freshly baked bread (white, bran, soya, rye…), samosa and potato chips, donuts, cookies, and cakes. A good range of different vegetables: baby sweet carrots, crunchy salad, new potatoes, cherry tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflowers, mushroom, apple, radish… and even rhubarb. Pots, clay containers, jebena, apron and kitchen towels.

At the flower compound, I bought wonderful flowers, in pots or for the garden, and trees. I found there my fake Xmas tree, a nice araucaria that now is waiting for another Xmas season in my garden.

Sometimes I have lunch at the restaurant (open from 12 to 13.30) where the girls that are studying at the vocational training center prepare nice international dishes. The menu varies every day and the tables run out quickly.

What I don’t like

If I want to find a good range of product displayed, I have to go there  at the end of the morning and if I want to be sure to find cream, or whatever else, it is better to call 011 646 29 39.

Where it is

From Maganagna roundabout, I take CMC road following the indication to Ayat. I pass the Beshale Hotel on my left and reach a big roundabout: I turn left and at the end of the road I arrive at a T junction, then I turn right. After about 1 km I a big antenna on the right and on the same side there is a wall that divides the main road from an unpaved, secondary road. I take this narrow road and turn right on the first street: Selam’s shop and restaurant is on your left. The flower exhibition is at the end of this road. Here it is a map.

I find Selam’s products also at the NGO market, that is held the last Saturday of each month at the evangelical church near Puskin Square.

7 good reasons for avoiding Addis Ababa as your next posting

I have to be frank with you: Addis is not the ideal place, the garden of Eden. There are some spots on the perfect life of an expat living in this town.

  1. The sanitary situation. You should be in good health to live in Addis: even if you can find very good physicians, the level of the medical facilities is quite low. It is impossible to find some kind of medicines and you can ear many people telling that antibiotics sold on the local market seem to be less effective than those brought from Europe. But I have to say that, if you have a good health insurance and a large stock of medicines, you can happily survive.
  2. The shortages. Fuel, butter, sugar, flavored yogurt, rice… the list can continue: sometimes they simply are not arriving in town for mysterious reasons. Or sometimes supermarkets are not displaying them: if you need sugar, you’d better became friend of the shop assistant.
  3. The altitude. Addis Ababa is at an altitude of 2400 meters above sea level, that means that you can fell tired, sleepless and breathless in your first periodi here. You will have also some problem with baking your favorite cake, but someone else has already found a solution for you. On the other hand, if you are training for a marathon, coming back to sea level you performance will be stunning!
  4. The poverty. Addis is a town of striking contrast: you can see side by side new buildings and old shack, shining shopping mall and poor banana seller with their wheelbarrow. And beggars of all ages living on the street. This is hearth rending at the beginning and with the passing of time it doesn’t become better.
  5. The water. In Addis Ababa, and in general in the whole country, if you don’t drink tap water your tummy will thank you. And even if the water of some lake and river could be so appealing, the only safe place to go for a dip is Langano lake (just try to avoid hippo!).
  6. The land. The bad news: Ethiopia has no sea, so no sea food, no diving, no sailing. The good news: some of the most beautiful beaches and ocean beds are reachable with a few hours flight.
  7. The Africa bug. Addis Ababa is in Africa and once you have known Africa, it is impossible to leave without missing it.

7 good reasons for choosing Addis Ababa as your next posting.

If you are an expat and in this moment you are staring at the globe to select your next working destination, here you are some good reason to choose Addis Ababa as your next posting.

  1. The weather. Despite you can read that in Ethiopia there are 13 months of sunshine every year, this maybe does apply to Dancali region (the hottest place in the world, as my daughter’s atlas states), not to Addis Ababa. In the capital you can enjoy almost 9 months of a continuous spring, with wonderful days and chilly night, and 4 months of rain, wet and mud.
  2. The help. Here the labor has a ridiculous price, so with your ferengi (that’s the way Ethiopians call the white skinned foreigner) salary you can afford a zebegna (that is like a guard for your compound), a mamite (a lady that cleans your house), a nanny for your kids, a gardener and even a driver!
  3. The savings. The occasions for shopping in Addis are not so wide (and in other towns are even less…) compared to other big capitals, so it is not difficult to avoid temptations, just because there are none.
  4. The safety. Despite being a big African capital, Addis Ababa is a quite safe place. I mean, as safe as it could be a city with, more or less, four million people living there.
  5. The people. I hate to make generalizations, but I have always had the impression that Ethiopians are friendly, kind and hospitable. They have an ancient history and they are proud of it. If you want to break the ice, try to say some words in Amharic and make a big smile, it is a good way to demonstrate that you are making an effort to get in touch with them.
  6. The timing. Arriving in Ethiopia, you will be 7 years younger, you will enjoy an additional month every year and you will start your day at 1 o’clock. How could it be? Simply using a different calendar, a different way to measure the time and, let me say, a different way of perceiving the flow of the hours. Here in Ethiopia the flowing of the time is much more relaxed than in any so called developed country and this, for me, is a luxury.
  7. The community. Addis Ababa is considered the diplomatic capital of Africa: with its large number of embassies, the headquarters of the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa, the offices of countless Ngos, I think that the number of foreigners is quite relevant. So you can always meet new people, from all around the world.

Do you know any other good reason?