With some research, I learned that Ethiopian food is not necessarily eating paste with your hands. It usually consists (most popularly) of a flavorful thick stew called wat and bread called injera that you use to mop up the wat. The injera is a thin, iron-rich bread with a spongy consistency that is made from fermented teff flour (source). Don't let the spongy consistency fool you; injera is very filling.
The next picture shows the injera that they gave us on the side. They are large, rolled up pieces that somehow resemble building insulation to me (but they tasted much better than I think building insulation would taste).
To eat everything together, we ripped off pieces of the injera and used them to pick up pieces of wat on the shared platter. We also used our hands to rip apart the injera underneath the wat. After a while, the bread soaked up all of the flavor and it was delicious. Overall, our group had a lot of fun. We preferred this over ordering individual plates, because the food became the central part of our conversation. It was a great way to bring us together and discuss the food that we were eating.
If you have any interest in trying Ethiopian food in Chicago, give Demera a try or look at other Ethiopian restaurants around the Edgewater area (near Broadway and Montrose). Along with African food, Edgewater is an outstanding hub for authentic international cuisine.
I hope that everybody had a wonderful holiday. I'm escaping the crazy cold and wind in Chicago for Napa to spend time with Al before I have to get back to the grind of my 21-hour semester schedule. Happy Friday, everyone!