Hey folks, before I start a ‘real’ job (ugh, I can’t believe I just did that), I am doing a little bit of events work and blogging for one of my favorite local city magazines in town. Not that I’m biased or anything.
Check out my recent entry on…surprise! Market finds!
Before I arrived in Dar I imagined a full-immersion of local foods and ingredients. After all, it’s what I look forward to the most when I travel. It was a bit more difficult in Dar, partly due to the saturation of international cuisine in our expat neighborhood, partly due to the lack of a varied Swahili cuisines (centuries of being a trade port has welcomed influences from far and wide), and partly because the local cuisine, when you find it, isn’t always that good.
With that said, in the last year and a half I have been surprised, many times, by the simplicity and flavor of some of the local dishes here (when I find it). I can never get enough of the mangoes at this time of year, or the watermelons in late summer. I love the various spinach-like greens stewed in coconut or peanut, the peppery grilled seafood–always grilled to perfection, the beef and plantain stews, and have even come to enjoy the plain, flavorless maize paste, called ugali, that is just as much a staple starch as it is a vessel to shovel aforementioned stews into one’s mouth.
I’m also pleasantly surprised by these little guys– called Dagaa. Dagaa is usually sold dried, and are available at most local, open air markets. They can also be procured fresh, slippery and silvery, from the fish markets. The dagaa is a small, sardine- or anchovy-like fish, used to accent dishes (usually, greens) when fresh but more often consumed in dry form, either in cooking or simply as a snack. It’s not for the faint of heart, these little salty fishy chewy snacks that pack a flavorful punch, particularly when they’re in the markets in these massive mountains.
I was able to hop on a tour of Dar’s City Center yesterday, led by a friend who was gracious enough to allow me to hitch a ride with her group. It was the best kind of tour, one that pointed out significant landmarks, but more importantly, hit on key points such as: great BBQ street vendors, open-air markets, where to buy milk and butter and cheese (Dairyland, fyi), a good butcher, imported goods for way cheaper than Shoppers, a small alley market where they sell nail polish and hair products…you know, the really important stuff.
The tour not only taught me where to get some basic necessities, but also cemented my opinion that yes, getting off the peninsula is a really great, really beautiful thing.
Now all I have to do is figure out if I can find my way back to these places. While I study Google Maps right now to figure out where I was yesterday and to see if I’ll be able to find my way out there again, here are some pics of Zanaki Street market. Excitingly, it’s pineapple season, and mango season is definitely creeping in, as evident by the three varieties of mangoes at the street market yesterday!
Yes, the streets of Dar es Salaam really are as bustling and frenzied as they look. It’s amazing.
Finally found a local market that I love- not too big, not too crowded, with a decent selection of cheap fruits and veggies. It’s a bit further of a drive than an everyday market, but definitely one that I’ll be returning to.
10’19’13 >> Selling rice and other pantry goods at the market in town
It’s been a quiet week on the blog- I’ll chalk it up to the fact that Monday and Wednesday were public holidays and people were in a festive mood.
In other news, I’ve been getting off the peninsula and to the local market in town to buy vegetables. I pass by these guys, selling their rice out of huge baskets and other dried goods. My favorite part of this picture? That poor little packet of beans that fell and scattered on the concrete. Pole Sana!