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By TzGirl - Posted on 28 September 2008

The romantic, exotic island of Zanzibar lies just 37 km’s (23 miles) off Tanzania’s coast and is easily accessible from the mainland by ferry, dhow fishing boat or ‘plane. I have spent some time in Zanzibar and it really is a beautiful island.

Stone Town is a popular tourist attraction (it is the only functioning historical city in East Africa and has the narrowest streets in the world !) as are the beautiful beaches which are picture postcard perfect with powdery white sand and swaying coconut palms. Zanzibar is also known for her beautiful, heavy carved and brass studded wooden doors and on a musical note, for the fact that Freddie Mercury (of the band “Queen”) was born there.

The food in Zanzibar is unbelievable. Seafood is caught fresh daily and is served in all the restaurants, and I have fond food memories of sitting in a rooftop restaurant watching the sun set over the ocean and tucking in to “Prawns Pili Pili” (peri peri prawns) which were served as “bitings” (snacks) with sundowners, on our first night there. Zanzibar was also the first place where I ever tasted star fruit, which was served fresh by the platter for breakfast.

Also known as “The Spice islands”, Zanzibar and the neighbouring island of Pemba together supply around 75% of the world’s clove crop. (If you ever cook with cloves or clove powder, it is highly likely that they came from this part of the world !). The fragrance of the cloves that hangs over the island during the harvest season is incredible …..

We did a “Spice Tour” when we were in Zanzibar and it was an amazing experience to actually see the spices growing in their “whole” form, as we are so used to only seeing the final product (powders, seeds or pods) on supermarket shelves !

Aside from cloves, other crops grown on Zanzibar include ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon and vanilla to name but a few. When I buy spices here, most of them come from Zanzibar and as a result they are still very fresh. Many are simply packaged in plastic bags sealed shut by using the flame of a candle to melt the plastic together, with handwritten or photocopied labels. Aside from growing your own, I don’t think you’ll find fresher spices than these, and I am very fortunate to have them readily available (and reasonably priced) right on my doorstep ...

This post was originally published on TzGirl's blog.

Food, Fun & Farm Life in East Africa