Monday, 9 November 2009


...from Maandazi to Pilau; from Vipoopoo to Ugali to Magimbi Chips...she has it all for the world to Eat

Brain Drain, is a term that spread fifty years ago when skilled Britons fled to the USA for better paid jobs. It has since become popular amongst former colonies especially in Africa. For example in 2000, a fifth of African medicals so much needed on the continent were working overseas. Amongst chief reasons for this human resource experience is unsuitable governments and economies. Some professionals, however, tend to keep links with their mother societies while earning bread in adopted countries. Miriam Rose,is a USA based Tanzanian who runs a bi-lingual weblog promoting Tanzanian recipes. She has a Masters degree in Information Technology and is employed as Web developer and designer in Arizona. Her new book on Tanzanian dishes is out soon.

Bajia za Kunde : amongst multitudes of Miriam's masterpieces.

Why is your site bi-lingual?
MIRIAM ROSE: Although I know every Tanzanian who uses the net speaks English I guessed some terms might be difficult for a few. My intention was also to promote Tanzanian cooking globally.
How has the reaction been?
MIRIAM ROSE: (Laughs) Some requested that I publish a book. Few complained about certain foods made from saturated oils. Many Tanzanians adore it. This is has inspired me to want to show the world that they may enjoy “gourmet dishes” from Bongo.
What are Gourmet Foods?
MIRIAM ROSE: Food prepared carefully, rich in flavour and served in an artistic manner. Any food may be turned into gourmet dish by being enhanced using different ingredients and served in a unique style. We Tanzanians lack an interest in serving food in an art form, although our food is organic, rich in flavour and nutrition.

Miriam Rose (Pic by J. Malaquias)

What are your views on our current eating habits?
MIRIAM ROSE: It would be nice for the government to publish books showing various vitamins and minerals in our dishes. We have good vegetables like Mchicha but people should be educated through writing, not just verbally. We should reduce Nyama Choma and beer; such a small country has too many beer brands. If we can spend more money on vegetables we will reduce Vitambi.
We women could prepare better meals instead of relying on domestic helps who we do not even monitor while they are in our kitchens. I personally return from work around six in the evening, cook then serve my family. I do not understand my fellow educated women. Why do they rely on domestic girls? How come educated women in developed countries manage to cook for their families? We should learn to serve food that has been prepared creatively. We can make Ugali and Mchicha look as if it comes from Kilimanjaro Hotel. We are building high rise buildings but eating terribly.

Chips made from Magimbi, the water based African yam

Today many urban based Tanzanians have fallen into the trap of gobbling Chips on all occasions. Fried chips which were developed for those who have no time to cook are filled with saturated oils and salt. Many Tanzanians think it is progress.
MIRIAM ROSE: I don’t think the majority of Tanzanians eat to be healthy but only to fill bellies. The Ministry of Health should campaign to educate people on these fried Chips and the advantage of eating Tanzanian foods.
Tanzanian cooking is by tradition not fattening; we are getting obese because we are eating badly and not exercising. Adding all that with this Fast Food increases health risks.
All these years living overseas I have discovered educated people rarely eat out; it is the uneducated and those with low income who worship unhealthy foods.


What are your goals?
MIRIAM ROSE: When I finished form six I wanted to be a Chef and writer but my father disagreed. So I have managed to study and have a job that pays the bills.
Nevertheless, my hobbies remain designing clothes, websites and writing. I have learnt to balance work and hobby, well. I have already started working on recipe and web design books which would eventually be affordable for ordinary Tanzanians. Later I would like to travel in our rural areas and document traditional cooking so it is not lost forever.
You have unselfishly, been helping Tanzanians design blogs and websites including myself.
MIRIAM ROSE: We have to thank God for everything. My job gives me enough bread. A website is a special office, it must look good. Many Tanzanians cannot afford to pay someone to design their sites. They really look bad. Those skilled enough charge exorbitant fees. I thought I should use my knowledge to help.

Vipoopoo Dessert, sweets made from Rice, Cardamon and Coconut which are popular during Ramadan.

Email Miriam at:

1 comment:

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