Saturday Series / No. 26

Tanzanian Vet

01’04’14 >> And then there were 8

Our third chicken in three months died last night, and we finally did what we should have three months ago and found a “vet” (this baby-faced, earbud wearing kid). It’s actually a Madawa ya Mifua, which is a livestock clinic of sorts, and this fella was able to open up our little two-month chick to provide us with a diagnosis. WORMS! Despite third-world style digs, this guy and another woman were incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

Since you can’t see it clearly, we took our dead chick to the vet in a Hello Kitty plastic bag. My point is, I’m sure he made assumptions about us, too.

Saturday Series / No. 25


12’28’13 >> A balancing act

It’s not uncommon for men and women to carry things on their head around here. I thought I saw it all when I saw a woman carrying a side table, upside down, on her head last week. But yesterday I saw a woman carrying a long bench, so I don’t think anything is out of the question.

Saturday Series / No. 17


11’02’13 >> Kijitonyama Market, Dar es Salaam

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.

At the market in Zanzibar

How many posts do you think I’ve got now, that are titled “at the market”? Probably a few dozen, at least. The Zanzibari market was bustling, busy, nothing short of thrilling, and unlike the Kariakoo Market in downtown Dar es Salaam, I felt like I could move around without being jostled or hustled too much.

Selling Fish in Zanzibar

Fishy As with most island cultures, fish reigns supreme. We saw only one butcher area – in the back, hidden from most of the front activity. Though, I suppose it’s a combination of this island culture AND Muslim culture, where strict butchering practices MUST be practiced.

spinach cucumbers and some feet. bananas The fruits and vegetables here looks ripe, plump, green, colorful, and healthy. Which begs the question, why can’t I seem to find these in Dar…? Also noticeably different was the lack of dust everywhere. At the markets in Dar, a thin blanket of rust-colored dust covers everything – people, animals, baskets, vegetables, shoes, and self. At the market in Zanzibar, they seem to have their dust under control!


Eggs Seeing this egg guy reminds me. Guys, our second chicken has finally begun to lay eggs! News of the month, surely.

These next two images were the most fascinating at the market in Zanzibar- set apart from the usual sightings of piled vegetables, rice, and fish. The first were these big drums of milk on carts. Coconut milk or goats milk, I still don’t know, but I’m almost (almost) positive that it can’t be cow’s milk. Poured out of spigots and sold in used plastic bottles, these guys were scattered throughout the strip of vendors.


Bread And then there was this. A mountain of bread, the size and shape of what we know as a pound cake. In case you didn’t know, the DiploMan and I are on the Whole30 diet at the moment (i know, i know, the most inopportune time ever. Tell me about it). So seeing these little golden loaf pyramids were like seeing bars of gold stacked atop one another.

I’m still not quite sure of how bread plays into the diets of the Zanzibarians, but seeing that there were almost as many bread vendors as vegetable vendors, I figure it’s something significant, and I’m dying to find my answer.

So there you have it, a market in Zanzibar. My collection of world markets is becoming quite numerous! To see recaps of my recent South African market experiences, click over to these entries: The Boeremark and The Hazel Street Food Market. Or to view a few other markets all over the world, go HERE.




Saturday Series / NO. 2

Vegetable Market

07’20’13 >> I caught a cold this week (no worries, it wasn’t Malaria) and spent the better part of the week indoors, resting. We got the rest of our shipment, from DC, so the week was also spent nesting. I did manage to run out a few times this week for errands – here’s a snapshot from my run to our neighborhood vegetable store – yes, this week was full of excitement…(sarcasm doesn’t fare as well online, does it?)

Smoked Tofu Stir Fry

A version of this article will be popping up over on Honest Cooking in a few days. But I couldn’t resist sharing it here, first!!

smoked tofu stir fry recipe

Several months ago, while in China, I waxed poetic about the virtues of good, smoked, baked tofu. I shared an excellent recipe for tofu stir fry over on Honest Cooking- it was easy, tasty, fast, and fresh.

Now I’m back in the U.S., and the ideas of easy, tasty, fast, and fresh food can be found EVERYWHERE around me. I’m elated!

smoked tofu_top view

Since I’ve gotten a job over at Union Market, I’ve found myself exposed to a number of folks who are bringing back the artisan foodways of yesteryear. From farmhouse dairies, to homemade preserves, to in-house curing of meats, to family oyster farms and local bakeries, small business have come forward to provide and promote a small scale production of quality, local, and tasty provisions. And this is not just happening at my local market, but all over the city, too. In fact, it’s happening in cities all over the U.S..

But back to the offerings at Union Market: Neopol Smokery is part of this wonderful artisanal movement. Based in Baltimore, Maryland, their provisions feature a variety of smoked fish, but also extend to smoked spices, herbs, and most intriguing to me – smoked tofu.

smoked tofu+cross sections

I brought a cube of Neopol’s smoked tofu home with me last weekend. This isn’t your typical, store-bought, mild-flavored, densely packed smoked tofu. No, it’s a grill-marked, heavily scented, rich and smoky tofu, weighty, but pillowy and then firm, all at the same time. Slicing off a raw piece at home, I deemed the intense smokiness beckoning to be accompanied by other earthy, umami-rich ingredients such as mushrooms and leeks. The tofu, somewhat bland on its own, desired a kick of flavors that could easily be lent from soy, ginger, and mirin.

leeks, ginger, and mushrooms

Now, both as a writer and a cook, I shoot for variety in my work. But sometimes, when I come across something so good and so fresh and made with some much love and care, variety just gets pushed to the sidelines. So here it is, another recipe for a smoked tofu stir fry.

**For all my friends who have got a smoker in your backyard, I encourage you to try making your own smoked tofu. I know not everyone has access to Neopol’s amazing treasures. Of course, the store-bought stuff is a fine enough substitute….and that’s not said with any amount of snuff or anything…

tofu stir fry with leeks and mushrooms

Fresh Smoked Tofu Stir Fry

  • 1 medium leek, greens and whites, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cube smoked tofu, approx 8 oz., thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. mushrooms, any variety (cremini & hen-of-the-woods used here), chopped/sliced into small pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. mirin
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 small nub ginger, finely minced (approx 1/2 tsp)
  • 6 oz. ground turkey
  1. Heat a bit of vegetable oil over high heat on a large skillet or wok. When oil is hot, add garlic and leeks. Saute for 3-5 minutes, or until leeks are soft.
  2. Lower heat slightly to medium high. Add tofu and mushrooms. Let cook for 3-5 minutes, turning occasionally to saute. Don’t stir too vigorously, or the tofu will break up. You want the tofu to brown on the sides and the mushrooms to become soft.
  3. Mix the mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger in a small bowl. Add to the stir fry, and sautee. Add the ground turkey, and cook until turkey is well done, approx 5 more minutes.
  4. Serve, hot, accompanied by rice.
If you love spicy fare, this dish would do well with the addition of a couple of chili peppers or a teaspoon of hot sauce.
Yield: 2-3 servings, as a main dish