Zanzibar’s native cuisine brazenly drenches seafood in local aromatic spices. At night, locals gather at Forodhani Gardens, a strip of park on the waterfront right outside the House of Wonders. Before sunset, cooks begin setting up grills and tables along the water and laying out skewers of raw seafood. You can stroll along the stalls and pick different delicacies that are then grilled in front of you by lamplight, and wash it all down with mugs of fresh sugar-cane juice.
On the upper deck of the Africa House, converted from a gentleman’s club during the era of British colonial rule and rich in atmosphere, we feasted on grilled pork, calimari, mashed sweet potatoes, cabbage salad, chapatis and fresh mixed fruit smoothies served by a very gracious waiter while we watched the sun go down over the Indian Ocean. We sampled Samaki/Kuku wa kapaka, fish and chicken in coconut curry with it�s sweet, warm and spicy flavor which is common all over East Africa. Biriani is meat or chicken with a deep fried onion-based sauce served on a bed of rice.
Another night we ate at a Chinese restaurant-first Chinese since we left home; we are desperate for vegetables! I ordered crab-three huge claws whose shells were at least 1/8 inch thick. As we were leaving the restaurant, I asked the young Chinese cashier where he was from. I am Zanzibari, he said proudly, as he threw his squared shoulders back! Oh, you were born here? I am third generation he said! Are you from Hong Kong? Yes…where should we go in China…oh, stay on the east coast where they have everything new…and go to the Island of Macaw…just like Las Vegas…it�s where I went to college! What was your mother thinking, I said laughing! He said he only liked places in China that were new and modern-hated buildings and statues and old walls-means nothing to him. His dad, he said, always liked to visit those places that were boring to him. Yes, he was Zanzibari!