Our landlord recently purchased a bajaj for her nephew, C, so that he could make some extra money.
C is in his early 20’s, walks with a small swagger, and lives in his own one-bedroom house on our landlord’s property. He had initially offered to drive ER and I to work every morning, but clearly enjoys sleeping in far too much for this to be a realistic option. The first and last time we attempted this, ER and I hovered by the front gate until our landlord yelled for C to hurry up. Several long minutes passed until C emerged from his house. He was still buttoning up his shirt as we pulled out of the driveway.
A few weeks ago, C offered to drive ER and I to the Kariakoo market to pick up some supplies for our new apartment. We were on our way to the market when C twisted around in the front seat to ask us whether we had ever tried kiti moto. When we replied that we hadn’t, C announced that we were taking a detour and pointed the bajaj towards the nearest kiti moto restaurant.
We said, what is kiti moto? C replied, kiti moto, kiti moto, don’t you know kiti moto? You don’t know kiti moto, you don’t know kiti moto, you really don’t know kiti moto? And then he threw back his head and laughed.
The bajaj pulled up to a small wooden and metal stand surrounded by a plastic chairs and tables. C gleefully asked the chef to show us the kiti moto and the chef grudgingly produced a slab of raw meat for us to inspect.
It turns out that kiti moto is a dish that is made with very fatty chunks of pork that are fried in pork fat. It is ordered by the kilogram.
Apparently, kiti moto, which literally translates to “hot seat”, is used as a code name for the popular dish because Dar has a significant Muslim population that is prohibited from eating pork. In 1993, during riots that are attributed to heightened religious tensions, restaurants that served kiti moto were targeted and burned. Stalls that serve kiti moto are now designed to be inconspicuous and are frequently tucked away behind larger restaurants.
Despite its fascinating history, kiti moto is not very good. ER surreptitiously fed little bits of the kiti moto to a cat that was curled up under her chair. I stopped eating when I noticed a thick pig hair growing out of one of the pieces. C poured himself two large glasses of Konyagi (Tanzanian cognac) to help with “kiti moto digestion”. Don’t tell my uncle, he said.
We didn’t, but we did find alternate transportation home.