An Expat Rant

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April 13th 2015
Published: April 13th 2015
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Written on the chalkboards outside the restaurants in the village are phrases such as ‘Lovely jubbly’ and ‘Oki doki’, and most declare the presence of ‘PIZZA’ and ‘PASTA’ bigger and louder than traditional Swahili dishes. Perhaps I am being cynical, but the message this sends to me is a slightly desperate attempt at attracting tourists who want to come to Africa but stay as European or American as possible. I’m not one of those pretentious people who claims to know everything about Tanzanian culture from the moment I step off the plane, looking down on tourists as inferior, but there is something wrong about eating a plate of spaghetti bolognaise and watching ‘The Cube’ whilst behind you Masai stroll along the beach. One particularly fancy hotel in the area (which shall remain anonymous) tried and failed to instigate a separate menu for the expat staff, which consisted of dishes such as macaroni cheese, shepherd’s pie, jam roly-poly and bread and butter pudding. I am all for a generous helping of Mrs Beeton-inspired stodginess on a bleak Yorkshire evening, but in a humid tropical climate carbs followed by carbs is the last thing that either your mind or your stomach desires. On being presented with a plate of dense gnocchi, I think longingly of fragrant pilau rice and coconut curry, and fresh tropical fruit. I don’t necessarily want to have to light my own fire and cook a pot of beans for six hours a day in true native style (as I have done before, and thoroughly enjoyed the result), but the Zanzibar climate and cottage pie just isn’t a match made in heaven. Sorry, Mrs Beeton.


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