An Infusion of Island Cuisine

  • 06 May 2015

Reunion Island cuisine reflects the diversity of its inhabitants. Influenced by Malagasy, African, Asian and European origins, a multitude of flavours are waiting to be savoured. A wide choice of dining options are on offer, whether at the dinner table in your hospitable guesthouse or in a well-established restaurant. The local people of Reunion enjoy picnics on the beach, in the countryside or in ‘les Hauts’, often the ideal opportunity to enjoy a curry over a wood fire.

The local Rhum arrangé is a blend of rum and fruit left to macerate for six months to two years and is served as an aperitif with samosas or as a digestif, with flavours including coconut, vanilla, pineapple and mango.

Located in the middle of the famous ‘spice route’, Reunion Island’s Creole cuisine has welcomed spices and flavours from around the world, including turmeric, cardamom, cloves from the Moluccas, ginger, white black or red pepper, the "pink pepper" of Bourbon, nutmeg from Maluku, allspice with wonderfully scented leaves and kaloupilé. All these spices add colour to the majority of the island’s dishes.

Cari (curry) is a central meal on Reunion Island, often accompanied by rougail sausage. Imported from India, the ‘national’ dish can be enjoyed in many variations: chicken cari, fish cari, lobster cari, all served with white rice.

The cultivation of vanilla is part of the history of Reunion Island. The first vanilla plants were grown in the early 19th century on the island, then known as Bourbon Island, explaining the continued use of the ‘Bourbon Vanille’ label. Vanilla is grown in the most beautiful forests on the island. Plantations are traditionally family businesses passed down from generation to generation.

Bourbon Pointu is one of the world’s best coffee varieties - and the most expensive. It exists only on Reunion Island. A ‘Premium Coffee’, it is characterised by its low caffeine content; production was interrupted in favour of sugar cane but as it remained in Creole gardens it has since enjoyed a revival.

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