Sweet Memories at Home and Abroad

By Sara Strawczynski, Tanzania

The Rideau Canal in my hometown of Ottawa, Canada is the world’s largest skating rink.  Each winter, the canal freezes into a winter wonderland, and I love skating along its 7.8 kilometres of ice.  No skate would be complete without a taste of beavertail at the end.  Despite what its name might imply, beavertails are actually a delightfully deep-fried pastry, covered in cinnamon and sugar.  They are available at huts along the ice, and in my mind, beavertails are as much part of winter as skating, cold feet and hot chocolate.

That’s why it took me a moment to place the distinct beavertail scent while wandering the hot, congested and sandy streets of Dar Es Salaam, where I  am serving as a Kiva Fellow.  My nose quickly led me around the corner, to some young women selling maandazi – donut like pastries available on street corners throughout East Africa.

Maandazi sellers

Maandazi are often enjoyed for breakfast with chai (tea), or as an afternoon snack.

Breakfast is served, complete with yesterday's soccer scores

Many of the clients at Kiva Field Partner Tujijenge Tanzania run small street-stands, selling maandazi, chapatti (flatbread), grilled meat and cassava, nuts, fruits and vegetables.   In the coming weeks of my Kiva Fellowship, I’ll try to support them by sampling as many of their products as I can.  And maybe next winter, when I can’t feel my fingertips after a long skate, the scent of a beavertail will momentarily transport me back to tropical Tanzania and memories of maandazi.

Sara Strawczynski finished her first Kiva Fellowship in Rwanda, and is now serving (and eating) as a Kiva Fellow  in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.  Consider making a loan to a Tanzanian entrepreneur here, and check back often for more opportunities.

About the author