Zanzibar has been an important maritime port for millennia. A stroll through the market, its current structure dating to 1904, affords a chance to see centuries-old traditions and a unique culinary heritage at the crossroads of civilizations.
Chef Lucas Wollman, of luxury hotel Kilindi, leads us through the market.
On Zanzibar, or Spice Island, the market is a chaotic collision of cultures. You can imagine the merchants of yesteryear bartering goods from all corners of the globe.
Locals visit among the produce stands.
Chef Wollman makes sorbet with the mabungo fruit.
Crazy-looking litchis sport prickly red spikes.
Stalls are brimming with 10 banana varieties including the dainty “lady finger” and the larger “elephant hand.”
A vendor prepares freshly pressed sugar cane juice with a vintage press.
Avocados are stored in a woven basket.
African avocados are light in color, displayed here in shades of yellow and green.
Large, vibrant cucumbers are stacked at a produce stand.
There are mountains of pineapples.
Cassave root is available for purchase.
Onions and ginger line one stall.
A man prepares onions with baskets ready.
Bright tomatoes are on display.
Delicious limes are available by the bag.
Giant jackfruits are available.
Bushels of leafy greens are available.
A local variety of spinach is available.
Lentils and beans fill multicolored sacks.
Spices and coconuts are on offer.
Peruse pyramidal piles of turmeric.
Colorful vats of dried hibiscus and spices will catch your eye.
Cinnamon overflows from burlap sacks.
Cloves of cinnamon are available as decorative objects for cars or souvenirs.
Shoppers can scoop up dried hibiscus.
Nutmeg is displayed beneath a red tarp.
Mint and cilantro are available.
Chef Wollman picks up a bunch of herbs at a stall.
Tubs of rice varieties show global grains.
Women wrapped in colorful khangas cook up chapatis over an open-air fire.
Chef Wollman purchases chapati, a flatbread like roti.
Colorful pasta fills bags of various shapes and sizes.
Before you even step into the fish market, the soft melodic hum of Swahili washes over you.
The morning auction is a musical sing-song as men, wearing traditional kofia (embroidered caps), call out their bids for the fresh catch of the day.
Piles of squid, tuna, barracuda and glistening octopus are artfully arranged on ceramic tiles.
The seafaring Swahili people are masterful fishermen.
Fresh fish are displayed in a basket.
Vendors standby at seafood stalls.
A seafood vendor cleans a large fish.
A variety of fish are on offer.
Dried octopus is displayed among other local catches.
Shellfish are organized neatly at the fish market.
Many fisherman still use the traditional dhows, canoes carved from mango trees.
Traditional bamboo fish traps are dropped into the sea.
Come face to face with chickens strutting on top of wicker cages.
Butchered chickens are displayed, feet up.
A butcher laughs in the meat market.
Goat hangs at the meat market.
Fabrics and other gifts are available among winding stalls.