On our first night in Stone Town, asking locals where we should eat is fruitless. You would be met with a blank stare or an undecipherable jumble of swahili and english. The divide between a restaurant that a local would go to and a restaurant that a tourist would go to is massive. And if you don’t know already, I’m willing to try all sorts of street meat, but the local restaurants are a non starter. Also, many of the restaurants on the beach serve alcohol and that’s reason enough for these muslim men to refrain from going.
After wandering around a good deal we had just given up all hope of finding palace to eat that both looked good and fit our budget. Then we saw smoke rising in the distance and a crown starting to gather. As we approached we saw tourist and locals alike ordering meat, fish, crab, vegetables, octopus, squid, you name it it was skewered and placed on white hot coals. They piled it all on a paper plate topped it with some still sizzling french fries and covered it with piripiri sauce or if you were adventurous pirpirihoho, swahili for very hot chili. (piripiri a native african chili, fiery hot, but immensely complex and flavorful)
Only being free of my stomach woes from istanbul for a week or so I wanted to play it safe, so we decided to steer clear of the pre cooked dodgy looking meats and go with what the vendors were calling pizza.
As you can see, this is clearly not pizza, but it was delicious. It came closer to a pan fried chinese dumpling. They start off with a thin layer of dough, pile on finely diced onion, carrot, peppers and tomato. Then they mix in a piece of laughing cow style cheese, a small scoop of mayonnaise, piripiri, and then crack a raw egg and scramble it all together in the dough. Our cook Mohammed slaps the whole thing dough side down on a buttered fry top and cooks for about 10 minuets.
During our wait we noticed a large wheeled contraption next to Mohammad’s kiosk. And saw five foot tall stalks of sugar cane along with fresh cut limes and big bulbs of ginger being fed through the device, the juice was trickling down into a tub with large blocks of ice. We couldn’t resist, we bought one, then another, then another. They were 1000 TZS each, that’s about 75 cents. Ice cold, tart lime, sweet cane juice, spicy ginger. The only way they could have been better, and they were already superb was with a splash of white rum.
If some entrepreneurial person is reading this, find a way to get one of these machines to venice beach, south beach, pretty much any beach in america and you will have a line of people down the block.