Moja

I found another hidden gem here in Dodoma, and I am so excited to tell you about it. However, I will say that I read over my last post (Rock Bun), and it came off a little…shall we say haughty. I’m afraid to say that I am bordering the line of being a scone snob, and that is not my intention. I appreciate all scones in whatever form and with whatever taste. So as per my kind friend’s suggestion that I “decolonize” my scones, from now on I will be sensitive to the scone-making culture of wherever I am and try not to use TPS as the absolute standard of comparison. On with the subject of the day.

The Crouton Scone.

I found this scone, again, walking around the market in Dodoma. But I have come to learn that the market where I’ve been walking around isn’t the main food market. It’s mostly a market for clothing and electronics (which I have noticed, but I continued going there for lack of any better place to shop). The real food market is just a little farther of a walk, but they have fruits and vegetables galore and, I imagine, baked goods. One of my colleagues drove by there and showed it to me, and it seems like a happening place so I’ve put that market at the top of my list of next destinations in Dodoma. (Also, side note about Dodoma: This process of someone telling me about something is generally the way knowledge is passed. There is really no way to know how to pay for your electric bill, how to call a taxi, where to find a grocery store, etc. without knowing someone who knows how things work in this city. So basically, if you come here and don’t know anyone, life can be really hard at first until you figure out how to survive, but if you know someone, you can temporarily use them as a crutch for all of the life things you need. All which is to say, thank you Dodoma colleagues.)

I ordered the Crouton Scone (not its given name but the name I gave it which will make sense in a second) by pointing to the scone and saying to the guy behind the counter (who clearly did not speak English), “Moja” which is Swahili for “one”. I felt pretty proud of myself for using my newly-learned Swahili until I realized that the guy didn’t understand what I said. So I just pointed to the scone with my one finger and then held that same finger up in the air to indicate ‘one’. At least I tried.

Anyways here it is, the crouton scone…

Tanzania Crouton Scone (1)

…whose name is evidenced by this next picture.

Tanzania Crouton Scone (7)

Now you all know that when I eat scones, I like to break them into bite-sized pieces and eat them piece by piece. Well, this is what happened when I tried to do that with the Crouton Scone. It actually hurt my fingers a little to break it (I know, my poor fingers). Clearly the Crouton Scone does not agree with my way of scone consumption.

Initial impression: It felt hard just like the rock bun (I can’t lie, I was periodically feeling the scone in the bag on my way back home), but the color looked great and there were even some sugar crystals on top.

Texture: In my previous post about the Rock Bun, I described the Rock Bun’s texture as hard without crossing the line of crispy or crunchy. The Crouton Scone crossed the line. It was almost exactly like the texture of a crouton, but with fewer air pockets so a little bit more difficult to bite. I eventually had to take bites into it because I couldn’t break off small pieces without sending an explosion of crumbs all over the floor (and I’ve already killed 3 humongous cockroaches since I’ve been here and am not eager to kill any more).

Taste: The taste was fairly scone-like though I couldn’t really get past the crunchiness. It wasn’t all too sweet which is how I imagine authentic scones taste. I think if it were less crunchy, it would taste really great with jam or butter.

Overall rating: 3/10 (if given a choice between the Rock Bun and the Crouton Scone, I think I would choose each one an equal number of times)

In other news, I will be traveling to Zanzibar (an island off the coast of Tanzania) this weekend, and I have discovered that they have scone-selling cafes!

Tutaonana, rafiki!

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!