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.




More from Pretoria >> Hazel Street Food Market


In a perfect world, I’d wake up every weekend to coffee already brewing (magic!) and set off to explore a new outdoor farmers’ market, replete with homemade goods, seasonal veggies, and local handicrafts. I would come home with a basket FULL of goodies to share with my little clan of Diplo-Babes, and after snacking on some delicious baked goods we’d pile into our beautiful kitchen (equipped with Viking Ranges, duh) and prepare a nutritious feast. It would be the best of lives.

As I continue to dream about my future airy kitchen and gang of little mixed-race toddlers, I’ll share some photos from my visit to another Pretorian farmers’ market. If the Boeremark suited more the salt-of-the-earth kind of guy than your yuppie self, then the Hazel Food Market would certainly be more to your liking. Cupcakes! Craft burgers! Not one, not two, but three coffee vendors! Smoothies! Oh, and more meat than you’d know what to do with (that’s what she said?!)…

Here ya’ go:









Pretoria has been such a great time these last two weeks, but I’m finally leaving town tomorrow morning. As great a breather as these weeks have been, I’m very much looking forward to getting home to Dar. Two weeks away is a long time, especially when you were only planning on being gone for one. I’ve got a few projects due at the end of the month and many more ideas that have been marinating for a little too long, and I’d best get everything done before they – or I – turn sour. My mental to-do list always causes me greater anxiety when thinking about the items than actually tackling them, so as you’d imagine I’m a bit of a mess right now. Do you guys get all knotty inside too, or are you the completely reasonable, sensible, level-headed, project-managing type? If you’re the latter, well, I envy you.

I only have a few days to get my ducks in a row, though, as we’re off to Zanzibar on a cultural immersion trip sponsored by the Embassy next week. If you’re thinking that sounds rough, ummmm…yeah, it totally is. Knotty guts and all.

Vetkoek (fat cake!), a South African specialty


My first memory of South Africa comes from high school, when a new boy moved to town and happened to be in my 3rd Period art class. He was talkative, despite not knowing a single soul, and he was from South Africa. We were never friends, but both being art lovers, we hung around the art wing quite a bit, and I got to know that quirky accent quite well.

After hight school Invictus came out, and then Blood DiamondSo by the virtues of Rugby and expensive gems, I was introduced to the basics of the country.

And then I moved to Dar es Salaam. In Dar, there is a huge expat population of South Africans, and as a result there is also a lot of Biltong– thin strips of perfectly dried beef jerky. There’s an equally large amount of boereworst- sausages, but again, a South African version which are often sold in one, long, coiled, poop-like link (it’s my blog, I can say what I want).


So I already knew a lot about the funny South African accent and its jewels- both literally and of the meat/rugby variety. It wasn’t until this visit, my first visit to South Africa, that I came to realize how different, special and unique this country is. It’s a place far removed from any other in the world, starting from their language, their mannerisms, their slang, all the way through to their customs, their traditions, their foodways. Being here is like watching Amsterdam on drugs. It’s a somewhat Western culture that some time ago separated and made a sharp, sharp left turn, and never looked back.

Last Saturday I went to the Pretoria Boeremark, the most famous of farmers’ markets here in town, to get an even deeper understanding of South African food and culture. I thought I’d hit the masses when I arrived at 9am, but my South African guide told me I’d already missed the crowds, who tend to arrive at 6am on the dot.


He pointed out various things, from local crafts, to local honeys and jams, to biltong and boereworst and various cuts of game meat- ostrich, kudu, springbok being the main varieties. I was hungry, and told him I wanted to try something very South African for breakfast. He immediately got a big smile on his face. “Vetkoek,” he said, “vetkoek is my favorite thing, I get it everytime I come here”. And of course, if a local says he gets something everytime, I instantly want to get it too.

As we walked into one of the many corners of the sprawling open market, he explained that vetkoek bascially translates into fat cake. Oh great, I though, I’m going to eat something called fat cake.



He led me to the vetkoek stall, which was manned by a man with an odd combination of silver bowl cut and teeny mustache, and who stood amidst a series of folding tables in the shape of an “L”. In one shallow pan along the back wall, remnants of oil existed where bread had been fried in large batches and subsequently piled into a large rectangular styrofoam bin at an adjacent long table. As the bowl-cut, mustachioed, silver-haired man took orders behind the register, two ladies ran around assembling the fat cakes behind him.

I couldn’t read the menu – Afrikaans is a language I haven’t even attempted to grasp – but my friend was helpful. He read the five-item menu aloud, and ticked off a list of ingredients, which included (but didn’t limi) ground meat, curried meats, bananas, “rainbow sauce”, honey, jelly….This was insane. Curried meats, Honey, Jelly? What’s rainbow sauce? What was going on?

So I did what anyone would do when faced with this dilemma. I asked which was the silver-haired man’s favorite, and ordered that one. One order of curried meat fat cake. The man beamed at me, and I thought for a second I thought maybe there was some miscommunication and I just married his son or something.

Nope, he was just happy I was going to eat a curry fat cake. Perfect.

The woman behind the station sliced open a large, round piece of crusty bread. She spooned a small spoonful of hot minced curried meat, and then a dollop of rainbow sauce on top. All fat cakes came with this mysterious “rainbow sauce”, which I came to learn was a house sauce made from caramelized onions and bananas. BANANAS! I took it, trying to hide my disbelief and a bit of disgust for fear of offending…well, everyone.



Don’t knock it til you try it, folks, because this little fat cake was OUT of this WORLD. The bread was crispy on the outside and softer on the inside, with a little bit of that pleasant chew that we all associate with good bread. It had just a hint of sweetness, which complemented the oh-so-thin layer of savory minced meat spread over it. The real surprise, to me, was that rainbow sauce. The onions and bananas, somehow, don’t ask me how, and it melded together to create a beautifully sweet and savory and floral flavor profile that somehow, really don’t ask me because I have no clue, went with the meat PERFECTLY.


Savory curried meat, caramelized bananas and onion sauce, and a fried round of bread. I’m still in awe.


After finishing about a third of the fat cake I had to tuck it away back in its little paper sleeve to save for later. I can’t imagine eating the whole thing, but then again, I guess it’s called fat cake for a reason. South Africa, you’re crazy, but I really like you.

Pretoria Boeremark

Boere means farmer, or peasant, in Afrikaans- a language that I’m just now beginning to familiarize myself with in terms of its history, both far past and more recent. But forget about the country or language, you know me and farmers’ markets- I just can’t resist.

The boeremark in Pretoria is a popular destination, both for foodie-giddie visitors (yours truly) and locals alike. A farmers market plus flea market, it’s open to the public on any given Saturday morning, all year round. Given the beautiful, Northern-California-like climate around here, that’s not surprising. I visited the boeremark last Saturday, and got there just as things were winding down- around 9am. They sure do get up early around here!










Pretoria Boeremark
by the Pioneer Museum, Keuning Street, Silverton, Pretoria
every Saturday, 5am-10am