Tanzanian Cooking Class


After spending a few days in Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, we all look forward to a relaxing day by the pool back in Arusha. (Little do we know how long it will take us to get back to the city, and our day turns into an evening cocktail hour by the pool followed by a relaxing morning before we catch our bus back to Nairobi.)

I always enjoy watching the world go by from the window of a bus or car while traveling in another country. Tanzania has no shortage of interesting views. We stop to see a large baobab tree on our way back to the city.

Achmed meets us by the pool and treats us to a few cold beers while getting our thoughts on our tour. I don’t have enough superlatives or adjectives to describe how much I enjoyed this adventure. Base Camp Tanzania treated us like royalty.

The owner and Executive Chef of the Ilboru Safari Lodge join us for a beverage too and we get the chance to tell them how incredible their hotel and staff have been. Anneleis, the owner, is from the Netherlands but has been living her for years. She and her husband have built a gorgeous resort and school here. Students work in the resort and learn hospitality and culinary skills that prepare them well for a career. Anneleis tells us she has been working on another boutique hotel just a few blocks away and indulges my hotel manager side by inviting us to take a tour of her new place with Tom in the morning before we go. Tom adds to the mornings agenda by offering us the chance to take a private cooking lesson with his wife. We gratefully accept.

In the morning Tom meets is after breakfast and we follow him up the dirt road toward a path and turn off into a banana forest winding our way across a stream and out to another road. After ten minutes walking we arrive at the new resort for our private tour. It’s gorgeous and the epitome of what I aspire to have one day, a lovely little inn or property of my own.

We wander among the cabins and open air dining areas and lounge and down to the pool. Everything is so beautiful, draped in vines and tropical flowers.

We make our way back to Ilboru and Tom’s wife, Nema, is already setting up for our poolside cooking class. She has brought fresh fruit and vegetables and supplies to make three dishes today and we couldn’t be more excited.

We will be making dagaa (a dish made of dried fish), ugali (a cornmeal porridge), and pilau which will be made with chicken and rice.

Nema is graceful and elegant as she prepares everything. She provides us with sarongs to wear as aprons, takes time to explain every step of each dish and introduces us to local customs and tools. We will prepare the meals using a charcoal stove called a jiko. And she teaches us how to use a coconut chair, something I’ve never heard of but enjoy thoroughly. We each take a turn try to learn to sit side-saddle in it while using a small blade mounted at one end of the chair to scrape and shred the inside of a coconut. Life in the tropics is so different from life on the prairie.

We spend a little over an hour preparing and cooking the dishes, tending the charcoal stoves, helping to make a salad, and making notes while Nema shares her talent with us. When we finish, Tom joins us, as does Sylvester our driver, and we enjoy a wonderful lunch together.

It’s nearly a perfect day, except that we have to leave. I only wish we could have stayed longer.

On our way back to Nairobi I catch a glimpse of Kilimanjaro out of the window of the bus just before it disappears into the clouds. I hope to return one day. This entire trip, Kenya and Tanzania and their people, have been incredible.

Categories: TravelTags: , , , , , , , , ,

1 comment

  1. That was interesting and sweet,again. Thank you! 😏

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