Just before I reveal the date of my wonderful feast I have in preparation for you, somewhere in Cambridge, I’d like to entice your appetite about Reunion creole cuisine, warm and humble food. For this, I need to take you to a very special place that I visited when I was last on holiday.
When I was a kid going back to the Island with my parents, I have one big memory and that is the smell of the food cooking over an open fire. At the time, most Reunion houses had literally a little shack at the back of their house where they would cook and smoke their meat, it is called “Ti cuisine au bois”. Today, unfortunately, these have been replaced by modern kitchens. But, and thankfully, a few Reunionnais have maintained the tradition and still cook in their “ti cuisine au bois”. During my holiday, my dad took me to one of his favourite places. I was very glad that my daughters could experience it as well. Let me take you there…
Reunion Island is well known for its volcanic and breathtaking mountains. This place is in fact a “gîte rural”, similar to our B&B and self catering accommodations here in England, with the exception that there, you will be served a meal as well as breakfast. And these are actual farms, so all the food served including meat comes from the farm. If you ever have a chance to visit the island, please don’t go to the hotels go to these, as you will experience real Reunion cuisine.
One Sunday lunch time my dad took us to the “gîte rural” of Josiane Métro. It was in fact someone’s birthday, and that’s the thing about Reunion, everything is very informal. Although Josiane and her family are good friends of my dad, I didn’t really know these people, yet they were delighted for me to share their feast. What a meal!
The island is not a French colony for nothing so, here we are with a good old apéritif, creole style.
Samoussas poulet (creole chicken samossas), beignets poisson (creole fish fritters) , rhum charette (flavoured rum) and proper freshly pressed pineapple and guava juice for the kids.
As a starter we had “salade palmistes” now this is truly my favourite as I can’t find it here in England, it is so fresh, “palm hearts salad”. Influenced by the French we season it with a vinaigrette, it’s heaven on a plate.
Then came the main course, that had been stewing on the open fire all morning. “Cari coq” with rice and haricot beans “cockerel cari”. Three main simple ingredients make Reunion cuisine, turmeric, black pepper, thyme, simple but very fragrant somehow.
For dessert, we had “gateau patate” yam cake, desserts in Reunion are often made with local root vegetables. A simple mix of eggs, flour, local sugar cane and rum.
We had a lot to eat, but the good thing is that you can go for a stroll amongst the fields of sugar cane afterwards.
I hope you have been tempted as I will try to bring you some of that humble food to my table somewhere in Cambridge.
Watch this space!