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.
While no one has yet scoffed at the idea of my eating Indian, Italian and American food in Tanzania, I have received quite a different reaction about eating Chinese. Yet, Chinese I ate. Once again it was night time and The Flame Tree restaurant was close enough to my hotel to be considered a safe distance. The place is run by a Chinese woman and deals in continental (European) food as well as the aforementioned Chinese. But I was truly interested in seeing what Chinese food in Tanzania would be like.
While mzungus (foreigners) in Arusha can usually be found in or around their hotels, a walk across the city revealed to me where they also tend to hang out: the strip mall. Of course, Arusha’s strip mall is quite different from what I’m used to, there is no doubt that finding a place to eat there was a lot easier for us mzungus. I opted for a place called Empire Sports Bar.
Eventually, I lost my travel companions and came to the realization that I had pretty much exhausted Moshi of all possible interesting foods. I could be wrong, but I definitely knew it was time to move on to Arusha, a bigger city sitting at the edge of the Serengeti that also functions as a jumping off point for Kilimanjaro. Upon arrival, I felt a rumbling in my belly that could only be helped by food. Through wandering the streets of Arusha, I found myself at Universal Classic Restaurant, which had the subtitle: “Feel home away from home.”
India has been trading with East Africa for more than a thousand years and the influence can be found all over Moshi and Arusha in Tanzania. As you might expect, this carries over into their food as well. In Moshi, an Indian restaurant called Taj Mahal was cooking some meats on the street during the day that looked so good we had to go for dinner.
After reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and coming back down to the town of Moshi, I learned a good amount about our guides. One of these things was that they came from a tribe called Chagga. Of course, the mere mention of tribes in Africa elicits images of nomadic people living in the wilderness, but this is simply not the case. In fact, most Chagga are Christian and either farm or live in the city of Moshi. I only mention this because after we returned to Moshi, our guide, Thomas from the mountain went above and beyond to bring us to a place for dinner called Chagga Grill.