I love to cook. Many expats employ a cook for a number of reasons, but I don’t because cooking is a significant de-stresser for me.
Tanzanian meals tend to be high in fat and carbs, but they don’t really do baking or desserts. You can buy them in towns but they’re not a part of hospitality in the same way as you might find in Australia. That means that if you do want to make something sweet, the ingredients and methods require bit of tweaking.
For example, I tend to stay away from biscuits and pastries here because butter is prohibitively expensive (imported for westerners from New Zealand or Ireland!) and the margarine, ‘Blue Band’, has a higher melting point which messes with the result.
When it comes to oil, it’s either sunflower oil or palm oil which have quite a different taste. You also have to be careful with oil because many shop owners leave their oil out on display and it goes rancid in the sun, before it’s even been opened. Olive, canola, etc are available from the western supermarket but in small bottles 10x the price of the others. I use sunflower oil because it’s grown and made locally and isn’t harvested at the expense of wildlife. (That said, Blue Band is primarily made of palm oil. Being environmentally conscious is yet another luxury of education and wealth.)
Another difference is that while lots of desserts in Australia use cream or condensed milk, those aren’t readily available, at least in Dodoma. You can’t take as many shortcuts but I’ve enjoyed learning how to do things from scratch. Over the next few Wednesdays, I’ll share some of what I’ve learnt.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.