Mirroring the territories’ melting-pot of cultures, the cuisine of overseas France has mixed roots and is an incredible variety of Caribbean, European, Indian, African and Middle Eastern traditions. Explore a culinary world where thousands of flavours combine with exotic colours and many local traditions.
The French West Indies are home to tasty vegetable or codfish fritters called accras, along with samoussas, palm-heart salad, bonbons-piment (“spicy sweets”), and chicken Colombo, all a snapshot of delicious créole cooking. The aperitif of choice is a glass of punch made with agricultural rum, distilled in both the West Indies and Reunion. Following the aperitif, you might want to try another Creole delicacy, the cabbage palm salad, made from the tender heart of this plant. Peyi saffron, white and black pepper, cumin and all the varieties of peppers combine to make this cuisine truly sensational.
Guadeloupe is the world’s second largest consumer of fish per capita. Fish broth, soft-shell clam blaff, grilled rock lobster, and conch fricassee are just a few mouth-watering Créole dishes.
Martinique hosts numerous crab fairs during the Easter period, where you can even witness crab races!
Colorful markets are the perfect place to discover the local vegetables and fruits (christophines, yams, passion fruits, carambola sweet potato, cassava, breadfruit, Martinique’s yellow banana), Creole specialties (black pudding, accras, cod, lobster or conch’s patés) as well as Caribbean coffee and cocoa.
The Village of Grand-Case in Saint-Martin is considered the Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean. Restaurants pepper the little streets, and are accompanied by lolos, which are open-air food stalls.
Located at the crossroads of the famous “Sea Spice”, Reunion welcomed flavours from all around the world, such as turmeric, cardamom, ginger and the four spices.
It would also be impossible not to stumble across the ubiquitous cari, inspired by Indian curries. A spicy meat or fish ragout, cari is served with a large helping of rice and well-cooked lentils or peas. The spicier rougail comes in two forms: a ragout, the most common being the sausage rougail, and a “home-made” condiment of chilli peppers and tomatoes, found on every table on the island.
Vanilla Bourbon (Bourbon being the old name of Reunion island) is used for baking, as well as in other dishes such as the famous Vanilla duck, and in punches, rums and of course coffee.
The sugar from Reunion is harvested in the sugar cane fields and then sold in individual packets to consumers.
Nearly 400 years as a European, African, Indian and Amerindian cultural melting pot has given French Guiana’s cuisine inspiration, originality, and passion, with a wide range of tastes and spices. Visitors to Guiana should not miss out on trying the chicken or fish boucané (smoked), a dish inherited by pirates, which today has many different variations. Other typical dishes are blaff (onions, garlic, celery and basil broth), pimentade (tomato sauce broth) or roast cougnade (grilled fish). Bountiful waters also offer a wide variety of fish and shrimp, which are prepared in marinades or on skewers. Spices, such as nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, pepper and hot pepper are also everywhere.
Last but not least, the awara broth is considered to be the ‘National’ dish, especially eaten during the Easter and Pentecost celebrations and used as a symbol of hospitality for special guests. The awara is a palm tree, and the pulp of its fruit is used to make a stew containing chicken and fish boucanés.
The best way to immerse yourself in Guyanese culture is to wander through the fruit and vegetable markets of Cayenne Kourou.
On the islands of French Polynesia, the most popular dishes feature raw fish prepared ‘Tahiti style’: freshly caught tuna, red mullet and bonito are diced and marinated in lemon juice and coconut milk for just a few minutes before being served cold together with ma’a tinito, a mix of pork, kidney beans, pota and macaroni.
Forming the basis of the local cuisine are the breadfruit, dozens of varieties of bananas as well as the taro, tarua and ufi’s tubers. Papaya, mango, pineapple, watermelon, grapefruit, limes, accompanied by vanilla bean are also eaten in fruit salads.
Tahitian vanilla is not an endemic specie to Polynesia, but was introduced by a French admiral in 1848 and is considered a special spice.
Tahitian wine is produced in the heart of the South Pacific, in the Tuamotu Archipelago. The 11 hectare vineyard is located in Rangiroa and the wine is produced on a small motu near the village of Avatoru. There are three varieties: Carignan, Muscat de Hambourg and Italia.
Whether French, Asian or Oceanic, New Caledonian cuisine reflects its mixed population, offering visitors a delicious and eclectic menu.
In Noumea, delicious specialties of the Hexagon are abound in Noumea along with dishes of Asian descent from Indonesia, Vietnam and China.
In the small restaurants of the brousse (bush), you will taste local cuisine, consisting of deer, shrimp, coconut, crab or wild hog, often served with root vegetables such as yams, sweet potatoes, taro and a medley of fruits for desert.
The Bougna is the traditional kanak dish (Melanesian): assorted root vegetables, fish, shellfish or large lobsters are marinated in coconut milk and then left to simmer for hours in banana leaves on the hot stones of the Kanak oven. The more daring might sample bulimes (snails), notous (pigeons) and even the ver de bancoule, a fat white worm, eaten raw or roasted!