WATCH | Here's the scoop: Cape Town's Tapi Tapi makes ice cream inspired by African flavours

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  • Zimbabwean-born Dr Tapiwa Guzha started Tapi Tapi handcrafted African ice-cream in 2018.
  • The Cape Town-based scientist uses ice-cream as a vehicle to shift attention to local African flavours, instead of the Westernised cuisine that is commercially available.
  • The unique flavours on his menu are either inspired by African dishes or utilise ingredients that are either endemic to or synonymous with the continent.

Smoked imphepho, baobab, blackjack, millet and edible clay are a few of the local flavours found on the menu at the new Tapi Tapi handcrafted African ice-cream stand in Observatory, Cape Town.

Zimbabwean-born Dr Tapiwa Guzha, who has a PhD in molecular biology, started making ice-cream while he was studying at a university in the Western Cape.

"I've always been quite passionate about food and when I moved to South Africa in about 2005, I started cooking a lot more for myself because I was no longer living at home. During my post-graduate years, I started making ice-cream for myself," he said.

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Guzha made ice-cream for customers through online orders and only opened up his first stand in February this year.

He said he did not see Tapi Tapi as a business but rather a "self-funded educational initiative".

He explained:

"The main focus of the work is to rehabilitate our own esteem issues around our food and our identity as Africans, that's what is paramount to me. How do I instill value in the familiar and how do I educate people about the value in the familiar."

According to him, a lot of the foods available on the African continent were considered weeds, poverty food or non-edibles. 

"But there's so much biodiversity and so much richness on this continent that's going to waste because we've embraced a legacy that's not our own and we've embraced a food system that's not our own," he said.

Local

Tapi Tapi was about opening up a dialogue and "switching the mindset" around what it meant to eat truly local, said Guzha, adding:

"One of the highlights of the day is often people reacting to flavours that they've never considered before, either because they don't know them or because they know them as a savoury thing or something from their childhood, that they never really took seriously, and then suddenly they realise all this potential."

Apart from being a big fan of ice-cream himself, Guzha decided to use it as a vehicle to tell his story because he said ice-cream was a universal food.

"Almost everybody loves ice-cream and if I'm trying to introduce you to a new flavour of a different food to what you are used to, it's a nice blank canvas that doesn't have any sort of prejudice against it."

Flavours

Some of the flavours on the Tapi Tapi menu were inspired by Guzha's memories of cooking and eating with his grandmother while he was growing up in Zimbabwe.

"Slow-cooked pumpkin and peanut butter, that's a classic dish from Zim called 'nhopi' and also the leaves from blackjacks. So those are two childhood flavours that are now on the menu," he said.

Guzha's main vision for Tapi Tapi is to one day create a space where people can come and learn about the continent and the different cuisines and cultural practises around food.

"I'm really interested in creating a space where you can come and park for a few weeks and just amass knowledge and bring in experts in their own field to educate people and rehabilitate this continent in terms of our self-esteem around our identities," he said.

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