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April 1, 2012

GOOD EATS ON THE SPICE ISLAND

by Erin Wilkinson Hartung

The food in Zanzibar is quite good. It is known as the spice island with exports of cloves, cardamon, tumeric, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, masala and vanilla. As a tropical island there is plenty of fresh fish, skinny chickens and mangos with unusual delicacies like jackfruit which is a taste cross between banana and pineapple. I went on a spice tour last weekend and viewed most of the spices along with tasting the hybrid jackfruit, fresh cocoa and coconut water from the husk.

There is a heavy Indian influence on the dishes so most restaurants offer rice pilau, tandoori chicken, and curry. The more popular shellfish are grilled with local masala spices. At the nightly market in Forodhani Park you can get 10 different fish kabobs, samosas, fried pancakes with chocolate and fresh sugar cane juice with ginger all for about $4 US. I probably eat there a few times a week. I have been told to eat at the stands with a lot of people. Traffic means tasty and safe for the stomach.

Around the corner from my hotel are rows of fast food vendors. The chicken and chips guy has a great deal when the craving hits me or the power goes out in the hotel. There is also Shmukey’s for burgers or chicken livers on a stick. His red awning can be seen through the crowd and he is open late. The local market offers all kinds of foods and gadgets and is not to be missed. Its important to be ready to haggle over the price of fruit, vegetables and kitchen utensils. Vendors will yell to get your business and start by showing you the most expensive items in their stalls. I bought an electric water kettle there for a good price, only to discover the plug does not match any of my adaptors. UAE maybe? It has become a flower vase. Anyways off to find my next meal. I think, I am in the mood for chicken biryani at the famous Passing Show Restaurant.

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