Kariakoo & Mzizima Fish Market

(Kariakoo market & Mzizima Fish Market. Photos taken with my point-and-shoot because I didn’t want to risk my SLR being stolen)

Last Thursday, A and I went to downtown to explore. I’d never been to a legit African fish market, so we decided to do it the right way and head straight for Mzizima Fish Market in Kivukoni instead of going for the “gentle introduction” that is in Msasani. We stepped off the bajaj and were greeted by throngs of people selling seafood in large platters complete with chile sauce and fried sardine (?) things in recycled paper cones. A suggested we find the actual fish market by following our noses — sound advice, because 2 steps later I was hit by the unmistakeable aroma of sea creatures.

It was unlike anything I’d ever seen. An expanse of platforms with piles upon piles of fish, people yelling in Swahili, the ground permanently caked with fish scales and questionable liquids. We walked, people stared and yelled out their usual greetings towards foreigners. I stepped over a stingray the size of a twin bed. After browsing for a bit, we decide we had to buy a fish and have it fried for us. While bargaining for the fish shown (fried) above, another seller approaches me and starts shoving a lobster in my face, insisting I buy it. I refused, but perhaps not firmly enough as I was still talking to the first man about the fish, and the second seller remains at my side, staring at me as the lobster tentacles poke into my clothes. After settling on a price, the fish seller leads us to the “kitchen”: an outdoors seating area encircling barrels of rice and ugali and buckets of water of varying cleanliness. The seller tells us to sit at a bench with just enough space for the two of us, and I plop down next to a man skillfully picking meat off of bones. A couple of minutes later, our seller brings us our fried fish that we demolished with our fingers. Freaking delicious.

After the fish market, we trekked to Kariakoo where I bought curries for 25 cents USD a bag, a quarter kilo of millets (“full of protein to make you strong!”), local eggplants, and another kanga. We ate coconuts and passionfruit from the street and ended at Chef’s Pride for dinner, where I had mutton stew and A a hotdog. An amazing day.