One of the wonders of holidaying abroad is the chance to experience new cultures, traditions and – perhaps most interestingly – food. Even in countries with close socio-economic ties, the local food varies wildly. By sampling local delicacies on holiday, you do nothing but enhance your experience.
When visiting Mauritius, sampling the local food and restaurants is all part of the island paradise experience. The variety of food and cuisine available in Mauritius is staggering. This is mainly due to the country’s political past; having previously been a territory of both France and Great Britain (with some Dutch influences, too), the national foods of both countries are well featured in Mauritian cuisine.
The outside influences, however, do not end here. Due to close geographical links with Africa, Mauritius also offers many African dishes as standard fare. America also has it’s representatives on the island, though through the slightly less admirable takeaway restaurants such as KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and McDonald’s And finally, largely due to trade routes where Mauritius was – and remains – a regular stopping point for ships crossing the Indian Ocean, there is also an Eastern influence from China and India in Mauritian cooking.
Somehow, this vast mix of cultural food works. It may seem overwhelming for such a small country to cater to such a wide variety of tastes and interests, but in reality the variety mostly just serves to appeal to all tastes. There is perhaps no other country in the world where you can experience all of these different foods through a genuine link with the home nation of the dish; Mauritius has not need to manufacture it’s gastronomy, it has come naturally over time.
Mauritius relies on both local and imported ingredients for it’s food. The Indian Ocean in which the island sits offers all the seafood the island could ever need, bringing with it the ability to eat the catch of the day. This freshness is treasured, particularly by those who normally live inland in their home countries and are not used to the difference in taste when fish and shellfish are new from the sea. Some of the seafood is imported from the Seychelles Islands, but usually only when demand during the tourist season outstrips the rate at which it can be caught.
Venison is popular in Mauritius and is sourced locally, thanks to a large deer population. Other meats, however, tend to be imported from Australia. Spices tend to come from India direct to the main port, and capital, of Port Louis and many Europeans find the prices so tempting that go home with several spices in their luggage.
Mauritius, therefore, has a wide variety of restaurants catering to every palette. For a true Mauritian experience, you can stray from the standard tourist track and try genuine local Mauritian food, some recipes of which often date back to before mainstream European inhabitation. These are generally African in theme, though spices feature heavily. A local delicacy is known as Octopus Vindaloo, which is octopus (locally caught, usually) cooked in mustard seed sauce and turmeric Be brave and give it a go, because after all if it doesn’t agree with you, you can always switch to McDonald’s for the rest of your stay!