Tanzanians have a great hand with barbeques, as do the Kenyans and the South Africans and the Swazi and probably a great many more people in Africa and in the rest of the world. Ah, not to forget the Argentinians!
In spite of the abundance of grilled meats and the great skillsmanship Kitimoto is something else. Kitimoto literally stands for hot seat. It is pork-only BBQ and everything is roasted fresh on customers’ orders. It is done delicately, hence the term hot seat: you may be kept waiting impatiently for almost an hour until the cuts you’ve ordered are done. The result is juicy tender meat.
It is ordered and paid by the kilogram. The better your Swahili and negotiation skills, the less fat and bones you might get. Or maybe it’s a matter of the price you’re willing to pay – I’m still a novice to this game. The second serving we got was far leaner than the first, so my colleague must have made some deal with the business-savvy girl. One kg per person is about what you can eat. If I remember right 1 kg cost TZS 10,000 (USD 5)
I almost suspected my colleague to be interested in an extramarital affair, when after some exchange and laughter in Swahili the Kitimoto waitress offered to give him her mobile number. He explained that she had offered him a call-ahead service, where he could call her and pre-order meat to be served an hour later. Clever girl!
Another explanation for “hot seat” could be the riots in the early 90s that saw the Muslim community burn places that butchered or served pork meat. Out of respect or humor or both pork is now also referred to as mdudu (insect) or mbuzi katoliki (Catholic goat).
According to my colleague there might be about 20% Muslims in Dar es Salaam, which is difficult to verify as the government has stopped publishing statistics about religion. One thing is known however: in Zanzibar 98% of the population are Muslim. So Kitimoto may not be found there.