Monday, August 16, 2010

Dar Es Salaam Food Market

After I was told by a local that the best place to buy spices in Dar Es Salaam was the local Shoprite, I decided that I was not going to give up so soon. I was told by another local girl that if I really wanted spices that I should go to Zanzibar, but if that was not possible then the "downtown food market" would be another option. She however advised me NOT to go alone as I would "stand out like a sore thumb" in the city center where tourists don't usually go. I wonder why? But that was not going to deter me because a trip to Zanzibar on such short notice would not have worked. Actually to be honest, I could've managed to get to Zanzibar and back the same day, but that would've cost me 70 USD for a 3-hour ferry ride and a 4-hour visit to Zanzibar City. I couldn't stay over either otherwise I would've missed my flight that was leaving early the next morning. That was a bit of a high price to pay for spices that's available at Shoprite - should all else fails - so I reluctantly dropped the idea.

So, the "downtown food market" it was going to be. After checking out the ferry prices at the harbour  for my next "planned trip" to Zanzibar I headed with my driver to the market in the middle of Dar Es Salaam city center. I think it was the center because it was definitely the busiest area I have seen since I arrived in Tanzania a few days earlier. The streets were narrow and the place was crowded. I was told that because of Ramadan most of the Muslim community were not around, otherwise it would've been worse. Apparently Zanzibar is 97% Muslin, so it was good that I did not go there, I might've found no-one on the island to buy my spices from. Fortunately for me Dar Es Salaam is different and there was more than enough people still open for business.

Once we arrived at the market I wasn't surprized at what I found. Just another African market with heaps of people selling their merchandise all over the place. Usually fruit and vegetables like on most markets, but I did not see any gorilla arms and bush meat like I have seen in Gabon and Cameroon. I always wonder where one should buy, as they all seems to have the same supplier. The fruit and vegetables are usually very sweet and tasty and here it was no different. I am sure they have discovered genetically modification techniques yet. But I was looking for spices and this seemed to be more scarce at the market than blood red tomatoes and elephant dick-size bananas. Honestly, the largest bananas I have ever seen. I eventually found a shop (opposite the street where everyone was selling from the ground) that sells spices. The place had a lovely aroma, but when I reached for my list of spices I remembered that I did not bring it with me. With my wife on the mobile I tried to tell the lady what I wanted. I was a bit disappointed when she could not help me with the ones that my wife was looking for, so I just bought a few packets that was lying there to take home. I had no idea what it was, I am not into cooking and the only spices I know is cinnamon and masala. I don't even know if salt and pepper falls under "spices".

Like advised earlier I was in fact standing out like a sore thumb. I was a bit reluctant to take pictures, so I stole a few from the vehicle as we were driving through the market. I've had too many experiences in Africa of locals getting annoyed when you take your camera out, so I wasn't going to look for any confrontation. I actually never felt uncomfortable while walking there, and even at times when my driver disappeared from sight I still felt safe. The people in general are very friendly, and I always believe you have a much better chance to talk yourself out of a difficult situation if both parties speak a language that both understand. Bad English from both sides would've helped a lot here. None of this was required on the day. I got my spices, my taste of Africa and even a Coke at 500 shillings compared to the 2500 chillings it costs at the hotel, so I was happy. Maybe I'll do all my shopping here in future, just need to find a place close-by to stay. I still want to try those bananas, but I will need someone to help me finish one. You should be able to bake three banana bread loafs with only one banana.

Who wants to go to Shoprite to buy spices when you can get it at a Dar Es Salaam food market?

No comments:

Post a Comment