In Part II of this series: Trail Africa: What Will Happen To You In Stone Town, Zanzibar, we covered the famous Forodhani Gardens Food Market––a popular night-time food market in Stone Town. At dusk, it comes to life like a nocturnal creature seduced by the cool breeze of the nearby Indian Ocean. It is like a food pageant. Here, food is art and art can be food.
The first emotion that will happen to you here is sheer delight. If you are a foodie, you will be charmed; you will salivate as if something has gone awry in your glands. You will hear lots of “Jambo!” and you will be a master at saying, “poa!” in response.
Check out exciting things that make Forodhani Gardens Food Market a place to visit…
#1. Lots of seafood to eat
The next feeling you will have is bewilderment. You will be astounded by the sheer assembly of things to eat. Even a gourmet will be dazed at the multitude of varieties, the tables, the grills issuing with fire and smoke, the sizzling meat, the lobster claws, octopus tentacles, and the many iterations of fish from the ocean. You will also be greeted with fresh food salads, fruit drinks, and sugar cane juices.
#2. The taste of Zanzibar pizza
In the Forodhani Gardens Food Market, there will be lots of Zanzibar pizzas too. They don’t look like your usual pizzas packed in cardboard boxes; they don’t taste like them either. You will see our travel guide, Abdul, smiling, urging you to grab a little and eat.
You will take a piece from the pizza man, take a bite, and pause. A smile will pull at your lips as you chew and you will cry, “Oh my gosh it’s so good, it’s so good I don’t even think it’s a pizza!” But it’s no ordinary pizza; it’s Zanzibar pizza. That’s the point. It’s got a layer of pastry and then toppings full of Zanzibari delights (vegetables, meat, and cheese) and then another layer of pastry. As you take a second bite and a third and on and on, you will relish the taste even more and wish you could make this sort of pizza for yourself when you leave Stone Town and your vacation is over.
#3. The pleasure of coconut bread
Abdul, your guide, will soon tell you about sweet potatoes and bananas and coconut bread, and as soon as he starts to talk about these, you will look and see these things around you like a conspiracy. “I should like coconut bread,” you will say. “Sure you will,” Abdul will say.
Once you pay the coconut bread seller, still wondering how cheap the hot, yummy stuff is, you will notice something at another table and ask, “What’s that over there?” Abdul will tell you it’s “urojo,” a soup of mango and tamarind eaten with boiled potatoes, chutney, cassava flakes, and hot sauce. Now, you want it too.
#4. Watching boys dive into the water
Another sight that will swoon you at Forodhani Gardens Food Market will be boys diving into the ocean. “Take a look,” the guide will say. “It is a good way for tourists to spend evenings in Stone Town.”
You will look on as it happens again and again: boys diving off stone walls into the ocean. They break into a run, shout, leap, flip, and dive into the water. This performance will enthrall you. You will think about life in a different way — free, exciting, and worth appreciating.
As the boys splash time away, they will splash away into your heart. You will leave Forodhani Gardens Food Market that night, after all the chit-chat with fellow tourists, after the bright camera lights, the hugs, the kisses, the shared contacts with rich vacationists and all, still thinking about the boys splashing away. Their skins glistening in the garden lights, their bliss unsoiled, and their smiles etched on your mind.
More tourist sites
As Abdul bids you goodbye for the night, he will say, “tomorrow, I will take you to see more of Stone Town.” “We can visit Old Fort. Plenty of fine things and art to see there. Or we go to Palace Museum. Or maybe we go to the House of Wonders, the museum by the sea. We can go to Prison Island too. Can you swim? If you can swim, we can go to Prison Island to see big tortoises, giant tortoises,” he’ll say, his hand expanding at his sides.
You will be so full of expectations for tomorrow that when Abdul leaves and you shut your hotel door, you cannot shut his big tortoises out of your mind. And when he sees your tired happiness, after a long day at Forodhani Gardens Food Market, he’ll nod, wave his hands and say, “kwaheri. Goodbye.”
“Kwaheri,” you’ll reply.
Featured image: @beverly_osu/Instagram
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A writer fascinated by humanity and diversity. He is the author of Do Not Say It’s Not Your Country.