I knew that when I moved here I would have to make some adjustments in terms of the food. So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The food we get here at the AIT volunteer house is simple, usually rice or potatoes and some sort of bean dish, but it is totally edible which I’m happy with.
Up until today the only authentic Tanzanian food I had tried was chips mayai, which is basically an omelette made with potatoes. That too is simple and pretty good. However, today I had a food experience I really wish to never repeat in my time here.
Even though I’m vegetarian I do eat fish occasionally, and I knew it would be good to eat fish in Dar because we’re right on the coast. I went out to lunch today with the group of Finnish girls that are interns here to a restaurant a ways up the road from the house. The menu is almost entirely fish and seafood (I think there’s 2 burgers). Since I’m not a huge fan of seafood (shrimp, lobster, etc), I thought I would just go for some simple, authentic fried fish. I was horrified when they set a plate down in front of me and I was confronted with a WHOLE fish, tail and all. I guess they just drop the entire fish into the fryer. It took me a minute to gather myself enough to take off the head (teeth and eyes included) before I could actually eat any of it. The fish itself was delicious, but one of the main reasons I can never eat a lobster is because it’s staring right at you, and that was the case with this meal.
In Canada fish is almost always already in fillet form. Apparently that’s not how things work in Tanzania. I wish I had brought my camera with me so I could have documented this ridiculous experience, but I will say that it was NOT very appetising looking.
The restaurant itself was really nice, and after a glass of sangria I managed to rip the head and tail off and enjoy my meal. However next time I think I’ll order the fish sticks.
All that’s next is to try Ugali, a maize pudding/dough of sorts that you rip off with your hands and dip into sauces. According to the Finnish girls I’m lucky not to have tried it yet. All have to say is that my palette will have definitely expanded by the time I get back to Canada.