The views expressed herein are mine and not those of the Peace Corps.



Useful Acronyms

PC Peace Corps
ICT Information & Communications Technology
PCT Peace Corps Trainee (pre-swearing-in)
PCV Peace Corps Volunteer (post-swearing-in)
PST Pre-Service Training
CBT Community-Based Training


A more cheerful post about food. How I cook, and what I cook.

I have two cooking options available to me here in Makete. The one I use most is the charcoal stove (or jiko in Swahili). It’s sort of hourglass-shaped and squat. I fill it with charcoal, dump some kerosene over the charcoal, light it, and then leave the kitchen for five to ten minutes while the kerosene burns out, leaving hot coals to cook over. If I keep feeding it it lasts indefinitely, and it covers the kitchen in a delicate yet attractive layer of ash. It’s nice because, after that initial flare-up and burn-off, it doesn’t smell like kerosene, and because it gets very hot for an extended period of time. More irritating is that I can’t control the heat: up until it uses up most of the coals, it’s on high heat, which makes sauteing anything an adventure in stirring constantly. I actually have two charcoal jikos: a larger, somewhat broken one that was in the house when I moved in, and a small non-broken one that I bought myself.


The second cooking option is the kerosene stove, which I’ve only used once since it was purchased. I may start using it more when time is of the essence, but right now I’ve got plenty of time to feed the charcoal jiko and nothing better to do. I hate the smell of kerosene but I’ve been assured that once school starts I’ll be grateful for its quick light-to-use time: basically you crank up the wicks, light them, put the cover on, and you’re ready to go.


Lately I’ve been cooking a lot of beans and rice. It sounds boring but it really isn’t: I make a sort of sauce out of the beans, and whenever I cook rice I do it Tanzanian style, with a little oil, a little salt, and some cardamom. The rice is delicious enough to eat on its own, and I do that too when I forget to start soaking the beans the night before. I also eat a lot of fresh produce from the market that’s a short walk from my house. Avocadoes, mangoes, and plums are all in season right now, and I eat a ton of all of them. They’re all smaller than their U.S. counterparts but so much more flavorful and delicious! The mangoes in particular are amazing, although since they need a bit more work to eat I find myself eating more plums.


On my first shopping trip here in Makete I bought one of the vacuum-flask thermoses that Tanzanians use to keep things hot, and since then it’s had tea in it almost all the time. I feel weird if I don’t have tea constantly available, and I’ve been drinking a lot of it, for several reasons. First, it’s delicious! Second, it’s warm, and I’m often cold here. Third, it doesn’t require filtering to make it taste good, like the drinking water does.


The last integral part of my diet is peanuts. I’ve been eating a *ton* of peanuts: I buy a liter of raw ones at the market for $1 or so and then roast them over the charcoal jiko and eat them like fatty, protein-tastic popcorn. They’re delicious, although the aforementioned heat control problem with the jiko means that sometimes they get kind of burned. Still delicious, though.

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