Egusi Ice Cream Anyone? Caterpillar Ice Cream? … What about African Flavors in Ice Cream?

Tapiwa Guzha, founder of Tapi Tapi (Source: sossegodaflora.blogspot.com)

Can you imagine having Egusi ice cream? or dried fish or edible clay or caterpillar or Chin Chin ice cream? … well… think no further! In 2020, Zimbabwean postdoctoral student Tapiwa Guzha who emigrated to South Africa for studies, had the idea of creating an ice cream parlor that represented African foods, flavors, and cultures. He thought of sharing his love of science, his specialty being plant biotechnology, to educate others with flavors from the continent. Thus was born Tapi Tapi, which means sweet sweet in the Shona language of Zimbabwe. Guzha mixed in typical traditional African flavors from all over the continent into his ice cream. To date, he has made over 900 different flavors from some of the most amazing African spices, nuts, seeds, fruits, flowers, clay, and even caterpillar. Tapi Tapi‘s sugar cones are made with millet, cassava, sorghum, maize, and plantain flour.. Enjoy, and if you are ever in Cape Town, don’t be shy… go and try out these amazing African flavors! Excerpts below are from the Guardian! Please also check out this very good article from TravelEssenceMag, and another from CNN.

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Baobab ice cream (Source: Tapi Tapi)

Caterpillars, dried fish and clay are not what you would expect to find in ice-cream, but one Cape Town cafe with a mission to celebrate African foods and culture has used all three as ingredients in its frozen desserts.

Handcrafted, authentic African ice-cream,” reads a sign at the entrance to Tapi Tapi. Inside, the counter is filled with ice-creams in various shades of beige and brown. They look underwhelming, but the blackboard listing the flavours suggests differently.

Tshego Kale, a 22-year-old student and part-time worker in the cafe, explains the menu. “First up is prekese and kei-apple jam. Prekese is a spice from west Africa, sometimes used in soups,” she says. “Kei apple is a sour fruit, but the ice-cream is sweet with a bitterness coming through.” Rooibos, fermented pineapple and lime is next: “It’s sweet, not as dense; good for hot days.”

There are three ice-creams containing chin chin – a fried snack from west Africa. One is paired with African bird’s eye chilli, and has “a kick that comes towards the end”. Another one features clay as the second ingredient: “It has an earthy flavour, very mellow and smooth with a biscuity texture.”

Egusi, a combination of seeds used in west African cuisine, is mixed with pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg in another ice-cream. “People from overseas have said this one tastes like Christmas,” says Kale.

Rooibos

Tapi Tapi and its African ice-cream is the brainchild of Tapiwa Guzha, who first came to Cape Town as a student from Zimbabwe. In the two years since it opened, he has created about 900 flavours.

Each tub he makes is unique and never repeated. His aim is to use ice-cream as a vehicle for educating and inspiring people about African flavours. When making a new flavour, Guzha thinks of an ingredient and what he wants to achieve by using it.

He explains: “What point am I trying to make by creating that flavour? Am I trying to showcase something new that people don’t know about? Am I trying to teach people about a cooking technique that turns out certain dishes or flavours? Or am I looking at a cultural icon?”

The idea for Tapi Tapi came in 2018, when Guzha was doing post-doctoral research in plant biotechnology but wanted a change. “I was looking for ways of communicating about science without having to rely on the scientific process – journal publishing, conferences and keeping knowledge in academic spaces,” he says.

Guzha had been making ice-cream for 10 years with dry ice that was delivered to his research labs, after seeing how it was done on a cookery show. One day, it dawned on him that he had never made a specifically African ice-cream. “I realised there was something faulty in the system. The moment you taste a flavour that connects you to home, your culture, your land – it’s a different experience.”