A foodie adventure on The Island of Spice

Ok. My final post on Zanzibar and one I’m excited to share. There is no way a foodie in his/her right mind would visit The Spice Island and not visit a spice plantation. Woe be unto that foodie! This, aside from my friend’s wedding the day before was the most fun thing I did on my trip.  It was like a dream come true. I grew up in the English countryside with a farm in the backyard and growing our own vegetables was normal. These days we are so far from the source of our food we don’t even know what some of it looks like before it makes it into a jar, bottle or packet. Anyhoot, I was totally at home on this plantation, dancing between the ridges and trekking along the dirt path behind our guides Muhammad and his assistant (who’s name I didn’t totally catch).

Muhammad tested our sense of taste and spice recognition and trust that I kinda, sorta, did ok on that test. Let’s just say I need to hang around fresh spices much more often. Although I knew in my head what the aroma of each spice was my mind couldn’t totally match the aroma with what I was seeing in my hand.  The smell from fresh spices is powerful and the stuff you by in the supermarket, and dry spices just don’t pack as much punch. Speaking of hands, you’ll find photos of quite a few in this post.

First off, Zanzibar is known for cloves. Fresh cloves take are actually flower buds. Although this isn’t a spice I use much, I fell in love with the smell.

This one is a spice I love but it was the first time I had ever seen a fresh one. Nutmeg. The smell of fresh nutmeg is potent in a gorgeous, I want to eat cake, kinda way.

We walked among some ridges and these were easy to recognise. Cassava. It’s very popular in Nigeria and used to make our famous garri.

On another scorching hot day this magnificent tree provided much needed relief from the sun.

We came across some grass. Lemon grass. You can actually find this in Lagos markets now.

A sniff that took my breath away was of fresh vanilla beans. Yum! Images of cakes and ice cream flashed across my mind.


Wakey wakey, so this is what fresh coffee beans look like. I’m not a coffee drinking, however this was fascinating to see nonetheless.

I have seen jackfruit before on my trips to Thailand, Malaysia and Mauritius and the Caribbean, but had never eaten it before. I got to taste it in Zanzi and all I can say is – I’m sold.

Fresh peppercorns. They look like the ones in my pepper mill, only those ones are dried.

Muhammad harvested cinnamon right before my eyes. Interesting fact: the roots of the cinnamon tree is used in vapour rub  (like Vicks) and big Red chewing gum.  The bark on the other hand is dried and used for baking.

So ever wonder how your tandoori chicken gets to be so red? Or how the Masai get the red paint for their faces? We found out. It’s the annatto seed.

This was a new one for me mbirimbi aka bilimbi I tasted this at a restaurant a few days beforehand. It tasted something like a flavourful cucumber and in English this tree is called a cucumber tree.

Now I love passion fruit juice out of a carton from the grocery store, but this fresh passion fruit is for me an acquired taste. It took a hot minute for my taste buds to acclimate.

Lychees please. I had to have two of these. They were amazing.

We also enjoyed eating some of the staples – oranges, pomelos and pineapples.

Mustafa and his aid took us along paths in search of more fresh spices for us to sniff.

At the end of a few long hours it was time for some shopping. Trust I stocked up on all the essentials, including the ones I know I didn’t need. How can one resist?




  1. OMG! This is amazing!!! I would love to go on such a trip! Let me finish this school thing and start my life…lol!

  2. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO jealous!! and to think Zanzibar is just so close to me AND i was in Dar in 2011 but did not make it to zanzibar coz if was Ramadhan and was told it would be boring but this would have been so worth the trip. Did not even know they grew vanilla there!!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


+ fifty nine = sixty eight