More on Zanzibar

More on Zanzibar

Khatib was the guide as I stepped into the tropical forest.  I was visiting a spice plantation.  His assistant cut a banana leaf, trimmed it and wrapped it into a large cone, like an ice cream cone.  He then secured the loose sides with a toothpick like splinter that he adeptly sliced from a limb.  I was told that before the tour was over, my cone would contain 10 spices.  The first tree was loaded with fruit similar to an apricot.  The guide picked some leaves from the tree, crushed them in his had and passed them for me to smell.  I had no clue.  Khatib picked a fruit, cut it in half and revealed a nut in the middle.  It was nutmeg.  One went into my cone.  A tree with small red blooms similar to honeysuckle was the next pause.  The red blooms dry and become cloves.  A cluster dropped into my cone.  Crushing the leaves of the next tree didn’t help either.  The bark was the spice – cinnamon.  The roots are used medicinally.  The bark was third into the cone.  The next tree held small clusters of what appeared to be tiny green peppers.  Pepper was correct.  The peppers mature to white, red and black; thus red, black, green and white pepper all from the same tree.  Khatib told me that pepper at one time was as valuable as precious stones because it disguised the odor and flavor of rotten meat.  I dropped the green pepper bouquet into my cone.  Grass followed, lemon grass, used for tea and ground into powder seasoning.  The stalks are used in soup.  More to fill the cone.  Ginger I recognized as I learned that ginger is a 6-month crop.  The plant dies and the roots are replanted.  Ginger is made from the root.  I learned that ginger kills bacteria and that Coca Cola produces ginger ale in Zanzibar.  Turmeric was a mystery, a plant I have never seen.  The spice is ground from the root.  It is a 9-month crop and is replanted.  My cone was filling.  Coffe plants grew in the forest too.  The beans were turning red.  I dropped a few into my cone.  Cocoa was number eight.  The bean was round and green.  The seed inside produces the cocoa but the flesh of the fruit surrounding the seed is edible.  The vanilla pod I recognized from my visit to the Seychelles.  The last spice was a cluster of small seeds within a pod.  I guessed correctly – cardamon.  The misting rain added enchantment to the tour.  My cone was full and so was my notebook.