No trip to Tanzania is complete without an encounter with the Maasai people. These are people who not only resisted colonization, but have also resisted the emergence of the modern Tanzanian and Kenya to maintain their nomadic ways. While their nomadic lifestyle is remarkable, they are still susceptible to the allure of city life, with many making visits to Arusha. Outside of a restaurant called Discovery, I found a bunch of them and figured it was as good of a place as any to eat my last meal in Tanzania.
The menu had clearly been written for locals and contained no English, but I had picked up enough food terms to know that my options were Tanzanian or Indian. Being my last meal, I opted for Tanzanian and ordered the Chips Kuku (chicken and fries). While I waited for my food, which was a surprisingly short amount of time in Tanzanian terms, I couldn’t help but feel the eyes of the Maasai looking upon me with some sense of suspicion. Perhaps I had tread on their territory, but the people are well-known for their hospitality to outsiders in the wilderness and they were probably simply curious.
As I said, the food came quickly, but it was not exactly impressive. The chips were exactly what I had expected and gotten used to, but the chicken left a lot to be desired. It was deep-fried, which is no problem at all, except that it had either spent way too much time in the oil or the oil was old and overused. Either way, it gave the chicken a flavor that was not particularly pleasant and the chili sauce and ketchup were not enough to make up for it.
It wasn’t the best way to end my culinary tour of Tanzania, but honestly I didn’t find local Tanzanian food to be especially impressive. Perhaps I was eating at the wrong restaurants, but I think Tanzania simply has not gotten to the point where the taste of food is overly important. Tanzania isn’t exactly poor and isn’t undeveloped either, but according to what I ate, the culture is mostly in a state of “eat to live,” rather than “live to eat.”