It’s 5 Photo Friday and today we’re talking about food! Here are five types of food that you might encounter should you visit us here in Tanzania (and we hope you will!):
I’ve written an entire post about nyama choma (Swahili for roasted meat) but no 5 Photo Friday about food in Tanzania would be complete without including it. Nyama choma is very popular among the Chagga people living on Kilimanjaro. Rarely do we make a visit to the shamba (farm) without enjoying it, especially when we have visitors. Read more here about how nyama choma is traditionally prepared.
Closely related to nyama choma is ndafu, or what is commonly nicknamed as the “Kilimanjaro Banana.” Ndafu is a goat slowly roasted in its entirety over a charcoal pit. They are served for special occasions such as weddings (in fact, when Tanzanians speak of “wedding cake,” they are referring to ndafu), or big parties in someone’s honor.
This ndafu was prepared to celebrate my mom’s 75th birthday when she and my sister Carla visited us last May. Mom actually received three live goats as gifts during her visit but since they would be a little tricky to carry back to the U.S., we roasted two of them for her birthday party in the village and made the third one into a big pot of goat soup for a party at our house in Arusha.
The goats are decorated with flowers, leaves and decorative vegetables and carried in on a big platter or cart, often accompanied by singing and dancing. This was the “wedding cake” being presented at one of Kakasii’s sister’s weddings last year:
Mtori, or banana stew, is another traditional Chagga food. It’s made with cooking bananas (similar to plantains), beef (including stomach) and vegetables. Kakasii is a master chef when it comes to mtori. The traditional way to cook mtori is in a clay pot like this.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
One of the things I appreciate about living in Tanzania is the limited availability of packaged foods. Although there are grocery stores in Arusha that carry them, they are usually very expensive. For instance, a Betty Crocker cake mix costs about $9 U.S.! So it’s motivating to make things from scratch and use a lot of fresh, whole foods in cooking. This is what a typical grocery shopping trip yields for us:
(Actually, we usually buy quite a bit more than this but we were just spending a few days in the village so we only bought enough to last us while we were there.)
And here’s one food item that you probably won’t casually encounter while in Tanzania. I had been living here quite a while before I was introduced to fibere (pronounced fee-BAY-ray, which is actually the word in the Chagga language). We were visiting one of Kakasii’s brothers who lives just a short distance up the mountain from our farm and while we were there his wife took me into the forest near their house and showed me how to harvest them by hitting the tree branches with a long stick. The fibere fall to the ground and then you just gather them up. They are boiled, similar to how we cook potatoes in the U.S.
Feeling hungry now? If you’ve been to Tanzania, what new or unusual foods did you eat? What were your favorite Tanzanian foods?