Spice Island: Discovering the Culinary Culture in Zanzibar, Tanzania
Many people consider Zanzibar to be little more than a popular beach vacation spot off the coast of Tanzania, and while that is very much the case, this gorgeous island has much more to offer its visitors than just white sandy beaches, palm trees, and coconut cocktails.
Zanzibar is also known as Spice Island, gaining much of its prestige and income from its extensive spice exports to all corners of the globe. On our visit to the island, we went on a Spice Tour and were able to learn about all the different types of spices, teas, fruits and vegetables grown in the area.
From cloves, to cinnamon, to black, white and red peppercorns, to vanilla, to cardamom, to pineapples, to cassava roots, to potatoes, to jackfruit, and everything else in between, the diverse array of edibles grown here are tasty treats for the palette.
Because of the high cost and inaccessibility of pharmaceuticals on the island—and in parts of Africa in general—the locals not only grow these spices, leaves and roots for export, but also for use in homemade teas and salves and other ingestibles to cure various diseases and ailments, like upset stomachs, arthritis and joint pain, skin impurities and rashes, and general inflammatory issues.
For those of you venturing to East Africa, be sure to make Tanzania and Zanzibar a must on you travel itinerary. Treat your tastebuds (and your immune system; after all, natural is best!) and take a walk through fields of clove, cinnamon, cardamom and cocoa just like we did. It’s definitely worth the trip.
All images: Rose-Marie Huet