Tuesday, 13 December 2011

On cooking a dinner party for 10 with no electricity

I have forgotten to tell you about our first dinner party here in Tanzania.  It was lovely to be invited to Mafalda’s house on our second weekend where we feasted on delicious home made bread baked by Julianne, Sebastian’s girlfriend who is teaching physiotherapy here at KCMC.  I can honestly say it was the best bread that I had eaten since being in Tanzania (not difficult) and apparently the secret ingredient is mashed potato!  We had several more courses and it was a great evening in the dermatology doctors compound where the houses have sinks that don’t leak and proper cooking utensils!

Now we're cookin' on gas! Not an AGA

So we decided to reciprocate and invited our new friends over to dinner on Saturday night.  Now those of you who know Aaron know that he takes his dinner parties very seriously and likes to impress!  Maflada had given Aaron a packet of Arborio rice and Aaron planned to cook a mushroom risotto.  Then on Friday Josh, Aaron and Rebecca went in search of a chicken to slaughter in Shanty Town (yes it really is called this and is where all the Mazungus live).  Luckily they didn’t find one and instead Aaron bought two frozen rangy birds from Woodland supermarket which we roasted on Friday night much to Zac and Josh’s disgust as they had gone to bed and missed the roast chicken dinner! So the plan was to cook a chicken and mushroom risotto and chicken stock was duly made that night.  We had Maya a vegetarian coming so Aaron was cooking a mushroom risotto with vegetable stock for her and for dessert a banana cake and I was doing the starters of guacamole and fried aubergine and greens and garlic. For the 3 children (Zac, Josh and Edward who is Maya’s son) we were making a tuna pasta bake.  All quite ambitious with 2 pots but do-able. Aaron was also baking fresh bread a la Juliannes recipe…

So far so good – all was prepared and so on Saturday afternoon we took the children swimming whilst Aaron’s first loaf of bread was in the oven.  He then went back to take it out and continue with his military precision cooking timings.  I came back about 40 minutes later to discover that the electricity had gone off – a common occurance but usually it comes back on.  So we waited and waited and waited and Aaron became more and more and more grumpy.  Finally we gave up - luckily we had cooked the kids pasta dish but it wasn’t going to be a pasta bake any more.  We hung up a paraffin lamp from the ceiling and Maya brought a spare gas stove and Aaron made 2 risottos simultaneously in the kitchen sink!

It was a great evening once we had had few Kilimanjaro and Serengeti beers and even the dodgy red Tanzanian wine tasted good.  Aaron did sulk a bit as his food was not up to his usual standard and the banana cake was a bit dry but who needs all those pots and pans and an oven when you can manage with 2 pots, a camping gas cooker and a paraffin light?  All our guests had to bring a plate, cutlery, a glass and a chair which made the clearing up much quicker!

Just to whet your appetite here is a photo of beautiful Lake Chala:   I will update you on this trip tomorrow.

Look Ma no crocodiles!

Now a short competition - we encountered this beasty whilst walking down to the lake on Saturday.  There will be an African prize for the first to correctly identify it by posting a comment........

Ahhhh what a pretty puppy :)


  1. Then again it maybe a rhinoceros beetle.What was the prize?, flights to join you.Thats very kind.

  2. We think you might be right, but by rights you should have identified it as the female of the species! However, as you are the only entrant it looks like you may well be the winner...The African prize is a choice between elephant dung or the beetle?