I remember the first meal I cooked for the truck group. For some reason we had decided to have fish. So I went to the market in Rabat, Morocco, speaking neither Arabic nor French, having never cooked for a large group or over open fire. At home my only experience with cooking fish was baking fish sticks or frying salmon. The choice at the market was overwhelming. But all the fish looked fresh. There was no smell. After half an hour of going up and down the aisles I settled for the one fish that was within my 10-USD-for-dinner-and-breakfast-for-the-whole-group-budget. Fried in a pan with a bit of salt it was delicious but turned out to be too full of bones for eating it in the almost dark.
One of the easiest ways to get fresh fish in Africa, however, is to stop by a river, a lake or an ocean. You don’t even have to fish yourself. When we took the boat down the Niger to Timbuktu fishermen just approached the boat, we haggled a little for the price, and – voilà! – lunch or dinner.
Or you go to the market.
Like most coastal towns Elmina in Ghana has a big fish market. Surprising to me: there is a lady at the entrance selling tickets (for 5 cents apiece). Once inside you find fish of all sizes. Unfortunately more and more frozen fish is sold here: big Asian trawlers empty the rich fishing grounds off the West African coast; the fish they can’t sell to their customers at home they’ll freeze into large blocks and sell to local fisherman.
When you get to Cape Agulhas, the Southernmost tip of Africa, make sure to stop by the fish store and have some delicious fish and chips.
In Zimbabwe you snack on small fried fish like they were crisps. If you’re fancy you dip them into mayonnaise.
Of course there has to be brilliant sea food on Zanzibar. If you check your Stone Town guidebook it will most likely tell you to head for the night market in Forodhani Gardens. Without a doubt a treat. But spare yourself the tourists and get a truly local experience by heading for the night market on the other side of (Stone) town. It’s crowded, at times chaotic but the sea food is even better (and cheaper). Buy a whole fried squid feeding two, some chapatis and miwa juci (sugar cane juice) for far less than ten bucks.
At the Kabusu roundabout in Kampala, Uganda, there is a little market. Every night three guys set up a brilliant food stand: they get two or three fresh Lake Victoria perches and sell them by the kilo. A kilo is about 5 USD and easily feeds two to three people. If you want to spare yourself the cooking just get it fried right there. While waiting walk around the market and get yourself some tomato-avocado salad and chapatis. Or take your fried fish and go to the next restaurant / bar. Buy some steamed rice from one of the ladies, a beer from the shop next door. And enjoy!
Tomorrow we go veg and talk about snacks.