Rock Bun

You thought I was on a hiatus (and so did I) while I am in Tanzania, but that myth has been quashed!

Update: I am currently in Dodoma, Tanzania (central part of the country, map for your reference) doing a research internship for my masters program. I’m looking at factors that affect dietary diversity to see if we can find ways to modify these factors to make it easier for people to eat a variety of foods and get the wonderful essential nutrients they need.

Of course I should I have known that because Tanzania was once a British colony that they would have scones here, but for some reason, I just assumed that coming here would be one big and exciting sconeless adventure. However, when I mentioned to some of my colleagues about my love for scones (and yes, the words “scone blog” did come up), they gave me a consolatory pat for my naivete and proceeded to inform me that there ARE scones in Tanzania.

So this got me excited and thinking of my impending quest for scones. But not just any scones…Tanzanian scones. Which makes me think that I should keep my mind wide open because we are not just talking about scones from different bakeries or different states; this is an intercontinental blog now. How we’ve come so far in such a short period of posts.

Maybe now is the right time to mention that I haven’t actually found any scones here, but I think I came very close with this. And now, on with the rock bun.

The rock bun. Looks pretty much like a scone and sold in a bakery that looks like it would make scones. I’m sure in Swahili its name sounds much more poetic than it does in English, but regardless it is a very accurate description of what it is which is…not a scone. But I still got very excited (probably scaring the person I was with) about finding something that even resembled a scone.

Initial impression: The quickest way I knew it wasn’t a scone was the firmness. With a name like “rock bun”, you have to figure they named it this way for a very good, very logical reason, and this reason, I found, is because it is hard as a bread rock. Think of the toughest bread you can think of and that bread is probably not as hard as this bun. I suspect that this is the hardest a piece of bread can be without crossing the line of crispy or crunchy. Despite its unusual firmness, the smell is distinctly bready (i.e. flour-y and slightly smelling of butter).

Texture: The rock bun does not crumble which is a nice quality. It means I can eat it in bed without having ants crawling everywhere by the next day (though eating anything in bed or near your bed is really not advised as I experienced with the stash of snacks on the desk next to my bed = ants). It has a springy texture but not in the “spring back” type of way but in the “old rubber band that’s lost most of its elasticity” type of way. The texture throughout (top, sides, bottom) are all pretty much the same. Biting into the rock bun is like eating a really stale scone as if the scone has become angry and resentful for not being eaten soon enough and has knotted its insides in angst. Eating one small handful-sized piece is really all that is manageable because it requires so much chewing and saliva-generation.

Taste: The taste is actually not bad once you get past the texture. It has no other flavoring, just a plain not-scone. Not too buttery or anything, but the texture is pretty hard to ignore.

Overall rating: 3/10

I highly appreciated finding this hidden gem. While not like the scones I have had and imagine in my head, this gave me a lot of spiritual joy. I can’t wait to see what else Tanzania has in store for me!