This is Gezana

Eindhoven has restaurants with dishes from all over the world and now the Eritrean cuisine has been added to the list. On the Willemstraat, Selam, Nazareth and Meseret Bahlbi recently opened the doors of restaurant Gezana. Nazareth: "Gezana means our home in Tigrinya. And that is what the dishes from Eritrea mean to us: at home. Our friends used to come to our home, partly because of the delicious food. We offer different chicken and beef dishes, but also an extensive vegetarian and vegan menu."

The indoor murals take you directly to Eritrea. The painting of the Fiat Tagliero in the Eritrean capital Asmara is striking. Meseret: "This art deco building is an icon in Eritrea. It was built at the time when the country was still a colony of Italy. The influence of the Italians can also be seen in Gezana's interior." Nazareth: "We all had different ideas about the design of the restaurant and we combined them. We made it personal with pictures of our parents and art." The more traditional corner has low couches and stools. The walls are painted with patterns like the houses in the villages in Eritrea. The rest of the restaurant is more like the urban Eritrea. Salem: "We already notice that people like the traditional corner so much, that they specifically ask for it when they make a reservation. It used to be one big space. This way, it is much cozier."

Nazareth previously worked in the hospitality industry, Selam was already used to cooking for large groups and Meseret completed a management training. That all fit perfectly with the desire to start an own restaurant. Meseret: "We have a large family and food plays an important role in all our lives. Cooking has always been the passion of Selam. "I wanted to help as a child, but I wasn’t allowed to. When I tried to prepare something as a surprise, I almost caused a fire. I wanted to cook so badly. With Gezana, a dream comes true." Nazareth: "Everything came together at the right time. We now have to miss our family, but they understand. We carry out our culture with the restaurant and the family loves it."

Selam and Nazareth are in the kitchen and Meseret takes care of everything outside of the kitchen. Meseret: "Visiting Gezana is a completely different experience than you get in most restaurants. For example, the food is served on trays in large wicker baskets and the guests eat with their hands. We wash the guests' hands before dinner. This is a traditional ritual. It is not only for hygiene, but also a tradition with which we show hospitality." Another special element at Gezana is the coffee ceremony in the weekend, from 19:00 to 22:00. Meseret: "Coffee is roasted on open fire and then ground. As a visitor you are witnessing the ritual. The coffee is mixed with ginger and has a strong taste. It is quite the experience."