Pastries during holidays
Ethiopian Easter is here and the streets of Addis Ababa are abuzz with the holiday vibe. Music is loudly heard from speakers inside tents that are put up by small and micro enterprises in different parts of the city. In these tents one can find anything from household furniture to spices. The smell and the sound that emanates from these tents grab the attention of pedestrians.
This rush is felt around Piazza area more than ever. Many people are moving around shopping for the holidays. This ambience seems to be contagious with the exception of the legendary Enrico Pastry. Having arrived early in the morning, elderly people sat in one corner calmly sipping their coffee. Eventually, the somber mood started to change around 9:30 in the morning. Cake enthusiasts started flocking to Enrico and queued. The place was chaotic once the cake sale started; voices became louder and the shoving intensified. Around 10:00 the cake sale started and many piled up their choices on a small plate. These enthusiasts devoured their delicious cakes in less than a minute. Others had theirs to go.
It goes without saying that Fasika is a festivity that is best described by the wide variety of dishes. Primarily, meat and chicken are abundantly consumed in many households. Doro Wot (spicy chicken stew) is one of the tasty meals most people look forward to during Fasika.
Apart from Doro Wot, homemade traditional bread (Difo Dabo) is the other food item that is part of Fasika. Similarly, Ambasha—flat bread which is prepared by adding spices such as cardamom seeds, raisins or in some cases ginger—is also served in some households.
These breads are still part of the holiday dish; but nowadays urbanites are replacing these traditional breads with various pastries. People order pastries ahead of the holiday or on the actual day.
Kaldi’s, Bilo’s, Kebé, Natani, La Parisienne are the preferred destination for pastries and in some instances customers end up with frustration because of shortage during the holidays.
Established 12 years ago, one of the main suppliers is Kaldi’s Coffee. The renowned coffee shop currently has 28 branches in various parts of Addis and Asnake Fantu, operations manager, says that the demand of pastries is increasing every year.
For this holiday, the people at Kaldi’s estimate that they will receive orders up to 6,000 large cakes each weighing 1kg.
There are three types of large cakes Tiramisu (250birr), Special Caramel (300 birr) and White Forest (280 birr) and according to Asnake the cakes will be available starting from the eve of Fasika.
In addition, 62,900 small-sized cakes such as Cupcake, English Cake, Caramel Frosting, Croissant and Double Chocolate are estimated to be sold with a price ranging from 25-40 birr during the holiday week. Furthermore, ice cream sale is also expected to increase. According to Asnake, they plan to sell 1,680 kilos in the 28 branches during the holidays.
Their estimation is made by considering factors such as monthly sale and past holiday sales experiences among others. In that regard, Fasika sales, according to Asnake, increase since it comes after two months of fasting. They disseminate the weekly quota starting from Wednesdays.
According to Asnake, during the holiday mornings many wait until the delivery vehicles arrive. Since the main baking warehouse for all the branches is located in Mebrat Hayil area Asnake says that there are instances the delivery vehicles arrive late in areas such as CMC.
In those occasions they suggest that customers go to other branches where the cakes are available.
According to Asnake, in some branches the demand exceeds their estimations and they are forced to ration from other branches with lesser demands. Additionally, they have reserves in case of shortage.
“Holiday demand is increasing every year and we designed strategies such as early preparations and estimation quota to meet the demand. Even with careful estimations, we sometimes face shortages,” Asnake says.
According to Asnake, Kaldi’s is expanding in different parts of Addis but has not yet fulfilled the demand. In that regard, they are planning to reach 40 branches in a couple of years.
Asnake says that 12 years ago selling up to 16 large cakes was a big achievement. Now this has changed and pastries have become trendy during holidays or special occasions.
Renowned for its cheese cake, Natani Café is also busy during the holidays. Located off Africa Avenue, hordes of people come looking for the famed cheese cake. In some instances, especially in the afternoons, the cheese cake will be sold out. It is common to see people ordering before lunch or telling the waiters to reserve the cakes.
Established in 2013, the first six months were a bit tough to break into the market but, according to Yonathan Abebe, owner of Natani Café, things changed with the growing demand of pastries and the consistency of their service. Yonathan says that their customers are consistent and usually order over the phone prior to the holidays. Following the phone orders they prepare the large cakes namely cheese, tiramisu, black forest and white forest. Apart from phone orders, a lot of people show up on the holiday to pick up cakes. In some instances, they face shortages especially on Fasika and Low Sunday. Even though he does not know the exact number of large cakes they sell he says that more than two hundred cakes were sold last Fasika with the price ranging from 416-640 birr.
Nowadays, pastries are part and parcel of the urban Addis culture. Found all over the city cafés and pastries are increasing in number. Pastry in Ethiopia traces some five decades back paying tribute to one of the old establishments—Belay Teklu Biscuit House. Though it is no longer there, Belay Teklu, which was located off Gobena Aba Tigu Street around Teklehaimanot area, used to be crowded with customers. One of the loyal customers was Hiwot Lemma’s mother. Hiwot remembers that her mother used to buy large cakes for holidays from Belay Teklu. According to Hiwot, her mother used to order two large cakes—ranging from 150-200 birr—before the holiday and picks them up on Fasika morning. However, the cakes are not for them. They take it to Hiwot’s aunt and uncle as a well-wishing gift. They get cakes for themselves on Low Sunday (Dagmawi Tinsae). After being Belay Teklu’s customer for more than two decades, Hiwot is currently in a dilemma when it comes to deciding where she can buy a good cake for the holidays. According to Hiwot, her second best option is Kyriazis Patisserie, which is located off Dejazmach Jote Street around Piazza area. Following in her mother’s footsteps Hiwot has also started buying cakes during the holidays. Last Christmas Hiwot roamed around pastries in Piazza including Centro, Enrico and other places but could not find a preference. Luckily, she found in Raizel Café and settled with that. Like Hiwot, Nahom Ermias, who enjoys cakes takes a large cake when he visits his parents’ house. Nahom used to buy cakes from popular pastry shops such as Kaldi’s and Bilo’s but has now completely shifted to Kebé Pastry. “We need dessert after having holiday food which is very full of fat,” Nahom says.
When he was a child, Nahom used to relish Hilton’s cream cakes and when holidays approach he used to get excited since his aunt brings a large cream cake from Hilton Hotel. Back in those days, there were no waffles, croissants or cupcakes and options were limited but now things have changed. For Nahom, a father of four, that is a good thing.