Each evening as the sun sets, Stone Town’s Forodhani Park transforms into an open-air food market. Skip the fish kebabs and head straight to the vendors selling urojo, a thick mango and tamarind soup served alongside chickpea fritters, boiled potatoes, cassava flakes, chutney, and as much hot sauce as you dare. Follow it up with hand-pressed sugar cane juice with ginger and lime.
Between Mizingani Street and the beach. This appeared in the May/June 2011 issue.
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Zanzibar's seafood extravaganza
A feast of enormous octopus tentacles, colossal lobster claws, and gaping fish are laid out on table after table every night in Stone Town's Forodhani Gardens. The names and origins of less recognizable treats, smashed together in generous portions on kebab sticks, will be (very) eagerly explained to you by the vendors at each table.
A kebab of tandoori lobster accompanied by fresh-pressed sugarcane juice is a quintessential treat, but if you feel iffy about sampling the seafood on the tables, there are alternatives: grilled sweet potatoes, savory bananas, and puffy coconut bread complete the Swahili suite of tastes. Negotiate your price and wait for the vendor to heat up your choice on an open fire stove in the middle of the gardens.
Zanzibar Pizza is everywhere in Forodhani Gardens’ night market. I am not sure why it is called a pizza. It doesn’t quit look like one, nor does it much taste like one either. Don’t get me wrong, it is DELICIOUS, …I’m just confused as to how it is associated with pizza.
It starts with a thin crepe like layer, then the masterful “pizza man” adds your choice of toppings (both savory and sweet are available) onto the thin layer. Your choice of meat, finely chopped veggies, half a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese (if he like you, he might give you a whole wedge) are piled high on top of the thin crepe and you wonder how would this ever stay sealed and not bust a seam. The entire “pizza” is sealed off with another thin crepe on top and set on a hot griddle with a bit of butter.
The end result is a hot melting delight with a tiny bit of crunch on the outside. It is good both as a main course and as desert. I suggest you get one of each!
The nightly food market in Forodhani Gardens in Zanzibar is a lively delight. At dusk, makeshift tables, propane tanks, and grills are brought out and before long, you can smell the aroma of fresh fish, meat, shrimp kebabs...
There are Zanzibar pizzas, limitless choices of grilled seafood, fresh fruit salads, sugar cane juices with ginger and gyro.
Grab a little something to eat, find a spot along the walls of the pier, and do a little people watching. It is a great way to spend a night in Stone Town.
A crowd gathers at dusk and a gaggle of teenage boys dive off the stone walls near Forodhani Garden. In my wanderings about town, I came upon the boys diving in my first day in Zanzibar. Most of them fully clothed, some without a shirt, the boys yell at one another, dive off the stone walls, into the ocean, managing some pretty fantastic back flips in the minutes they are airborne. Walking upon it, the whole thing has an air of spontaneity to it. One boy dared another and before you know it, twenty-some of them are taking turns and showing up one another.
Two days later, there is a gathering again, and boys are diving off the stone walls. They dive off the stone wall in threes and fours. Some miss-time their jump and end up in a belly flop. Some are more interested in speed than fancy flips. They dive, climb out of the ocean, and immediately do it again. This isn’t some kind of tourist trick—I didn’t see anyone busking—I believe this is for no other reason than for the boys to entertain themselves.