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*For those of you who don’t know of Kooky’s latest adventure in Tanzania check out “He’s alive” and “Good Bye Kooky“.  They should bring you up to speed.*

How is the food in Tanzania? It is dumbfounding to me that it hasn’t conquered the world like italian or chinese food. One word comes to mind, amazing.   The best part about Tanzanian cuisine is you can loose weight if you stick to the diet, even if you eat all you can. I have lost between five and ten pounds. Please note that this only applies to men and all the weight lost will be muscle, not fat.

The base of the food is ugali which is boiled corn flour. It has the consistency of play dough and tastes like what you would imagine. It is served for most meals aside from breakfast. To eat ugali you break a ball off with your RIGHT HAND.  This is very important cause your left is the hand you wipe your butt with, also they don’t use toilet paper and normally no soap… You then take this ball of vaguely corn flavored dough and  try to pick up beans and greens that have been cooked until they loose their ability to be solid. You might get lucky and have some additional protein for dinner which could be one of a few things:

I did a google image search for Ugali and every picture pretty much looked like this.  Looks like a giant ball of masa.  YUM!

I did a google image search for Ugali and every picture pretty much looked like this. Looks like a giant ball of masa. YUM!

First we have daga which are little dried fish that are salted. They are about the length of your pinky.  If you walk within 40 ft of a pile of daga at the market you will know recognize it quite steadily. Daga, as I have seen it are usually served in a tomato based sauce.  You could have fried fish. These aren’t battered and fried pieces of cod or other nice white fish, it is river fish that have been fried whole until the  thing is crispy, even the meat. Tanzanians eat the whole thing, scales, bones, fins, guts and all.

A pile of Daga at a Tanzania market.

A pile of Daga at a Tanzania market.

In the world of poultry we have the ever present chicken. It is as fresh as you can get it right out of the back yard. these are gnarly chickens they are not the fat happy ones you might see over the fence of your neighborhood hipster. These chickens are fighting each while sifting through cow shit in search of worms or running like hell to not get raped by a rooster. They are also fried until thoroughly crisped. The head and liver are usually reserved for guest.

Next we have red meat. I have had beef for the first time in my life over here and those of you who say I don’t know what I am missing, now I know, and I don’t regret not eating it for 25 years. Goat is delicious. Half the joy I get out of watching baby goats romp and play is knowing they are going to be dinner one day and it will be amazing. The cuts of meat Tanzanians like are the gristly ones. The other day I got the sirloin of a cow and the butcher looked at me like I was crazy. Ribs, joints, and gristle are the prime cuts over here. Karibu is choice meat. Goat and beef are usually stewed in a garlic and tomato broth and it is quite tasty, if not reminiscent of chewing on a tire with bits of bone it.

Breakfast usually is either vitambu which is rice cooked down until a paste and then fried. The other option is mandazi, which are like over cooked triangular doughnuts.   These are not really drained out of the fat very well and are very greasy. They are typically served with delicious piping hot tea that has enough sugar in it to make a donkey walk out of it’s hooves.

Mandazi

Mandazi

They also love soda. America might be the second fattest nation, (thanks mexico for taking that torch) but Tanzanians diets are about on par with an American fast food diet nutritionally speaking.

If you wish to try a delicacy from the Tanga region where I was living, I am giving you the recipe for tambi, their version of pasta.

you will need:
1 package spaghetti
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup sugar.

boil the pasta until it is just past al dente.
then add the oil and sugar.

bon appetite

Tambi

Tambi

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