This week in the Mauritian News, my pick 2

Week 12 (Starting March 20th)

A little note for this week numbering, that might seem foreign to most of you. In Denmark, everything is counted in weeks, instead of giving actually dates. So for example, the kids might be on holidays during week 26 and 27 – and everybody will know what you are talking about.

Monday

There is a good, but little, tiny, section in the daily newspaper l’Express, called Who Cares? It is usually just one picture and a few lines about mostly environmental problems on the island. The small things, here and there, nobody really cares about and nothing much is done about on the council side of things. I think it is individuals who sends pictures and/or complaints to the paper who then helps to get things moving.

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source: lexpress.mu

The floating wreck at Anse-la-Raie is the problem in todays edition. This wreck has been there for a few months and nobody seems in too much of a rush to get it out.

So I have learned something today (in French one would say: I will go cleverer to bed tonight!). A ‘Anse’ is a small and shallow bay. You will see the word used quite frequently around the island, actually also in Rodrigues, La Réunion, Seychelles… Anse-la-Raie is located about 12-15 min from Grand Baie. It is a bit a forgotten place, I have driven there quite often, it always seems rather quiet. The place is well known to local kite surfers though.

Tuesday

Fabulous news in l’Express today! Getting rid of bigger things like fridges or an old mattress has always been a bit of a problem on the island. You have to get a special truck to come and pick up your larger items, as these are the only ones allowed to get to the garbage dumps. And then you couldn’t even be sure it went where it was supposed to. You could also call the garbage people and ask them kindly when they would a space for your old stuff – and the answer is nearly always: not today! Well now in Flacq and all the 23 villages around there will be a truck picking up the big trash everyday through the week. So since Saturday they had already been to 5 villages.

In the Défi there is an article about the World Happiness Report is out. This year number 1 goes to Norway. Mauritius is number 64th worldwide, and number 2 in Africa (behind Algeria!). This probably means that of all the corruption in the African countries, Mauritius is after all not that bad… or maybe it’s really bad and that’s how it got to number 2. Ha! anyways I wonder what the Mauritians think about their African classification, but on a worldwide scale it’s probably about fair.

Wednesday

To go along with my posts about slavery in Cape Town, an article today in L’Express about Mauritius’ role in the slave market. The article is written by Vijaya Teelock, a local historian, and she reflects on the need for Mauritius to accept and acknowledge the island’s history when it comes to slavery in the Indian Ocean. She calls for an Intercontinental Slavery Museum in Port Louis. You can read it here.

Thursday

Today I finally managed to get to a newsagent and get a copy of the new baby in Mauritian papers, “Bonzour! Votre Zournal toulezour!”, “Hello! Your paper everyday”. Obviously  that slogan sounds much better in creole… It’s a paper for those who want lots of local news and stories, and a minimum of international news, fast. Lots of small articles, easy to read, mostly in French, a few in English in the ‘English Corner’ (smart). There are lots of stuff I could write about here, but I have narrowed it down to 2. There is a 2 page article about supermarkets and the older shops, how they disappear, how people prefer the supermarket, for the same reasons as everywhere – nothing new there. Except the shop in the picture, is a shop I have wanted to take a picture of for ages. We drive past it everyday going to school and I always thought it had something. “Laboutik Ros” (the shop in stone) is over 70 years old. It was the first one of the village Bois-Chéri Road. The current owner is 75 and has been there for 35 years. Cute!

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La Boutik Ros

In the ‘English Corner’ they have a section called ‘today’s topic‘ and though this has nothing to with Mauritius directly – I am still going to write about it. New Information about Sugar: well, the old part is that sugar is worse for you than fat. No surprise there. However a team of scientist in the UK has found a link between sugar and Alzheimer. That’s worse news. In an easy way the article explains why nobody should drink litres of Cola everyday. Jamie Oliver is one chef that has been vocal about how bad sugar is, and I applaud him for it. I truly dislike all these companies who only think about their bottom line, and couldn’t care less about the health of their customers. Here is the link to the article in The Telegraph.

Friday

Maybe it’s just the mood of Friday afternoon, and after a couple of papers I don’t really find anything I like. Well there are enough things to write about, but it’s all doom and gloom. Corruption. Drugs. Legalisation of drugs. Q mother who left her 2 week old on the floor of a mosque. oh and more corruption. So the least depressing has to be the (quite usual) call for gandia legalisation – gandia is the local name for cannabis. We do have a small community of Rastafari on the island. I never knew much about their movement apart their obvious taste for pot and believe me I felt very silly when I discovered that it is actually a religion. Am I really the only one who didn’t know that? tell me no!! Please. Just 2 quick lines about the actual belief system, because really this needs much more thought than the link from legalizing marijuana: Basically they believe that Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia is a reincarnation of Jesus Christ and their saviour. They refer to him as ‘Jah’. Rastas in Mauritius want the Creole (Mauritians from African decent) to recognise their African identity which is undermined by Babylon, the white supremacist…

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Emperor Haile Salassie 1 of Ethiopia, aka ‘Jah’

That’s it peops! Have a lovely week-end!

Yay! it’s Saturday morning

Even though I think the weeks go by pretty fast, I cannot wait for Saturday morning to come. And this weekend: there is nothing planned! Yay! Kids were asking for playdates and nature walks, but really I need… peace. It’s not often that I call a halt but today I have decided I do nothing. I mean, as much nothing as a mum of 2 can get away with.

Of all of the week-end, Saturday mornings are always what I prefer. Before we left the UK (in 2010), it was our lazy morning. My husband used to work till 3-4am, so he needed to sleep. I would make my coffee and put on Saturday Live Kitchen, or whatever these cooking programs were called and just do nothing. Pure bliss. I do miss these programs. Nobody can make cooking programs like the Brits.

Well no cooking programs here, for starters, they are not on the TV and the kids are taking over the crazy-box with cartoons anyway. They never have the time to watch during the week, so that’s them sorted (for as long as it lasts) on Saturday mornings.

The first thing I do – well that is the first thing I do every morning, religiously, (except maybe in case of big hangover): I prepare my coffee. It took me a long time to find a coffee I like. They roast the coffee beans very hard here on the Island, so the coffee tend to be very acidic – something I don’t particularly like. Or should I say: particularly don’t like. I enjoy a round and full bodied coffee. Strong, black. I love coffee – some would say I drink too much, probably true, but it’s a matter of survival and no headaches.

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But the coffee is as important as the mug I drink it in. I don’t have many things from Denmark, unfortunately. But the few things I have are very important to me. For my coffee I use 2 of them: both of Danish Design.

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In case you didn’t know Bodum is Danish. It was created in 1944 by Peter Bodum and is still today a 100% family owned business, with his kids owing the company and the son being the CEO. In the early years, Peter was importing glassware to Denmark and came across vacuum coffee makers. He made his first coffee maker in the early 1950s. In 1974, his son Jørgen took over the company and launched Bistro, the first French Press by Bodum. It was back then selected as the most environmental friendly coffee maker and received many International and Danish design awards. In 2016 their products are sold in 55 countries and today it is one of these companies that make me proud of being Danish.

“Good design doesn’t have to be expensive,” Peter Bodum (founder on Bodum).

My cup is probably one of my favourite pieces of porcelain. I have 4 of them and I love them. They come from Royal Copenhagen. The company was founded by one of our Queens, Juliane Marie, widow of King Frederik V. She became Queen when the son of the former King got mentally ill and couldn’t govern anymore. She was a very strong woman and her greatest legacy is the founding of Royal Danish Porcelain Factory in 1775. The unique factory mark (the lady was also into marketing) was used to start each piece of Royal Copenhagen porcelain: the crown and the 3 waves. Still found on all their porcelain today. They are all hand painted.

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This is the underneath of one of my cups. It shows the crown, the waves and the signature of the painter.

My little mug has passed through 30 pairs of hands. It’s a true little piece of art and I enjoy my coffee in it every single day. Oh! Another reason to be proud to be Danish. Our Queen Margrethe II has also designed some things for Royal Copenhagen. Go and have a look on their website, their stuff is just gorgeous.

A little fun note on European history: In the 1700 and 1800’s it was good diplomacy, amongst royals and aristocrats, to give fine porcelain as gifts. In 1801, Denmark lost the battle of Copenhagen against the British. Lord Nelson (famous British Naval Commander)  bought Royal Copenhagen porcelain back home to his mistress Lady Hamilton as a gift.

Well this was not at all what I had planned for my post today, but there you go a little bit about my home country Denmark. Always well know for their design, with a good reason.

And by the way, at 9am the quietness that comes with kids being in front of the TV ended, and questions like ‘what are we doing today? can we go to the pool now? why are you still drinking coffee, mummy?’ started. It is now 9:30 and my head is spinning with ??? so that was that quiet Saturday morning – not as long as I wanted, but not too bad.

Hope you enjoy yours!

Healthy eating: Roast pumpkin and quinoa salad

I already confessed to my desert addiction, in one of my posts about Cape Town. So I am always trying to put some balance and usually try to eat healthy, you know, so I can indulge in the sweet pleasures.

The other night we had a high protein and super food salad: Roast pumpkin and Quinoa salad.

Pumpkin is plentiful on the island. It is one of the vegetables that we can nearly always get. It is a super food and I have grown quite fond of it. I don’t think we ever ate it when I was kid, but here it’s part of the diet, it is also very cheap most of the time. Yesterday I paid Rs38/1kg (that’s a little over a US$1). I have also got the kids to like it, even though the were not too sure about the taste in the beginning.

Here is my recipe:

  • Salad
    • 150g quinoa
    • 600g pumpkin
    • 1 red onion
    • a couple (or more) garlic cloves
    • 150g chickpeas
    • crumbled feta (fresh, marinated)
    • a small bunch coriander leaves
    • a few sprigs of thyme
    • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • Dressing
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 3 Tbsp vinegar sugar cane or white wine
    • 2 Tsp caster sugar (optional)
    • Salt and Pepper to taste

Way to do it! 

Switch on the oven 220c. Give the pumpkin skin a good scrub and cut it in wedges, about 1cm wide. A bit of salt and pepper and some thyme and in the oven for 10min. My pumpkin cooked VERY fast. Others might not, so the cooking times are just a general idea. Can take longer and shorter. Please check the pumpkin!

Meanwhile prepare your quinoa. I let mine soak for 15minutes in 375ml water and then bring to boil, cover and put on minimum till all water is absorbed. But you could just follow the instruction on the pack as well.

Cut the onion in big wedges, I like to keep my garlic clove whole and just give it a whack with the knife so it’s kind of flat. Add them to the pumpkin and check the cooking.

I just assemble everything. Make the dressing and add. I use sugar cane vinegar because it is the local one. But really any kind of light coloured one will do: white wine, apple cider… or just just lime juice.

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The good thing about such a high protein salad is that it leaves you absolutely full. For me it was enough. My husband who eats a bit more, had grilled fish on the side.

Now, I like a very clean taste so I prefer not to sweeten my things too much, however if you wish you can easily add honey (or other sweetener) to the pumpkin before roasting to give a bit of roundness. You can also add roquette to the salad before serving and swap the coriander for basil or flat leaf parsley for a more European touch. This salad is extremely versatile, so let your imagination work. Also I made one big one, but you could easily do individual plates, leaving the pumpkin on the skin for example.

Wonderful lady!

With my husband’s job, we get to live in a very nice house on the east coast. I don’t have direct sunrise, but my views are stunning, the house is awesome. With the very nice house, I am fortunate enough to also have a very nice lady looking after it. My housekeeper is called Vedah. She has been working in the house for 22 years. The house is more hers and than it will ever be ours. A part from all the usual stuff, she happens also to be quite a good cook – for local dishes.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw an article about a local dish I had never tried – banana and salted fish curry. Salted fish is a very common thing in Mauritius. Drying and salting fish is a very good way of conservation. It is also pretty cheap and fast to cook. Usually we eat it in rougaille (the local tomato sauce), it’s then called rougaille poisson salé. I was telling Vedah about how would like to make the banana curry version one day, because it must be tasty.

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Wednesdays are Vedah’s days off. She is Creole, so from African descent, and Catholic. Like most Creole are – at least Christians. So she is off on Wednesday because she goes to a home to give communion to the elderly, spends the day with them, helps to wash them, to feed them… An awesome lady.

So today she came back and she had cooked for me. She didn’t bring one dish, or 2 dishes. She came with 3 different things.

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banana and salted fish curry

Yes, of course she remembered our conversation. She made it this morning, before work. It was still warm when I came home from school run. I am going to have it lunch way, in a slice of baguette. Otherwise it would be served with rice.

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satini coco

Satini is a cold side dish, where the main ingredient is a vegetable / fruit. Satini coco is grated coco and spices, in Indonesia one would call it sambal, in India a chutney. In Mauritius (and all similar islands for that matter) dishes come with lots of small side dishes. This is one of them. The main ingredients are: an older coconut (so the meat inside is hard, like the one we eat in Europe), tamarin paste, mint leaves and chill (optional). The coconut is roasted and grated on a stone and mixed with the spices. I have never done it myself.

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achard limon

In my former post where I was talking about the goodies from la Réunion, one of the things that I loved was achard de citron. Well Vedah came with the Mauritian version, made with limon (local small green lemons, or lime) from the island of Rodrigues. She told me they had macerated for 3 weeks in vinegar and then she added the spices and left it some more. Awesomness.

My lunch today is going to be so tasty, and perfect today. Thanks to our amazing Vedah!

On another note. A little fun fact. A typical Mauritian thing: today I went to do my groceries and I found what I think is the world’s most expensive lettuce. Yes, here in Mauritius. Imported from Mars? Nah, I think it’s just from Spain.

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At the stunning price of RS3’528.- per kilo. That’s US$ 100.- Do you think it’s worth it? I mean it must be incredible, with salad taste out of this world. I have to admit it does look fresh. Just so we agree, a lettuce is probably around Rs35 (US$ 1.-) and a ‘iceberg lettuce’ is Rs90 (US$ 2.70) in the supermarkets.

One more #hashtag, one more prayer

#prayforlondon

I have prayed for them all. Those everybody prayed for #Paris, #Nice (these 2 were close to me as I lived in both cities), #Berlin and #Brussels. I have also prayed for all the others #Istanbul, #Ankara, #Aleppo and #Syria in general. For #Irak or for #Afghanistan, for #Mali and #Nigeria. There was also a #prayforbangkok and a #prayforkarak (that’s in Jordan, I also lived there). All good of course, for our conscience – you know to feel better about ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to see the world (at least occidental world) coming together and ‘not being afraid’ or ‘showing that we are united against terror’. Well of course we are. And of course life will go on, because life always goes on. Today you loose someone close, tomorrow people will remember, but in a week everybody are back to their daily lives.

Am truly sadden by what happened today, I cried when the Bataclan was hit and when I saw Nice my heart ached and I cried, again. But you and me know it’s not enough. We both know that our politicians are not doing enough to stop the bleeding. A few million dollars here or there are not going to change a thing. Quite the contrary.

All this BS politics, this naming and shaming – this finger pointing and putting people up against one another. It’s all none sense. We both know it. They all know it.

Because when I pray, I want to pray also for the attackers – I want to know where all this hate and anger come from. Because all this has to be a misunderstanding. Surely. Call me naive, if you want. But these people are living in fear and misinformation. It creates more fear, more hate, more misunderstandings. It brings more tears, more heartache, more hashtags.

I will pray for the wounded and the persons who lost their lives. I will also pray for peace and love and education. Because I believe that it is all down to that, education. And love.

Tomorrow the sun shall rise. And the praying will stop. And then what? We wait for the next attack to pray some more. Praying is not enough. Writing this post neither for that matter.

#prayforlondon #prayfortheworld #prayforpeace

Week-end Trip to Cape Town, Part 4

Just next to the St George’s Cathedral is the Slave Lodge. The foundations of the building date back to 1679, originally it was where the slaves were lodged by the Dutch East India Company during  130 years.

In the mid 18th century about a 1000 inmates lodged there. In the beginning of the 19th century the slaves were sold off and the building was converted into government offices. It has been nearly everything from Supreme Court to Post Office. In 1968 it became the SA Cultural History Museum, and in 1998 it regained its old name of Slave Lodge. You can read about the whole story here. The Slave Lodge’s own site is a mine of information on the actual life of the slave, it is a very interesting read.

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Facade of the Slave Lodge

I have mixed feelings about the visit tough. The building itself is beautifully restored and what it stands for is extremely interesting. They have temporary expositions where they address human rights issues and raise awareness. There was an exposition about a couple and their fight against Apartheid, unfortunately I simply cannot remember their names. It also covers the history of the Cape, slavery in South Africa and so on – where, how and under which conditions the slaves came to the country and then lived.  Now to the part I didn’t really like: well it’s more because it was a bit out of context. On the first floor, there are permanent Greek, Egyptians and other expositions and I just feel it takes away from the actual purpose of the building itself – but hey that might just be me.

Inside courtyard

Well in the courtyard

At that point my tummy was quite empty and it was time to sit down and enjoy a nice lunch. I stopped at Fork, a tapas bar on Long Street for my well deserved rest.

There is a small terrace on the first floor which was perfect to sit on and enjoy a nice glass of white wine and a little bit of tasty food. There are only 4 tables outside; when I was there in February, the sun hid behind the building at 1pm, otherwise most of the tables are in the (hot) sun. Like most of the restaurants in Cape Town, the prices are very reasonable for the quality of the food served.

View from the little terrace

I had 2 dishes (and desert… I like desert!!) The first was a fig and feta salad – in my opinion there was too much dressing, but I usually take my dressing on the side – just forgot to ask for it: I always feel that restaurants in general, tend to drown their salads in dressing. Then I had veg curry – Cape style. It was very nice, not too spicy, on the sweeter side. It comes with papadums, I wish there would have been more of those. To go with this I had a glass of Organic, 282 Sauvignon Blanc from Elgin Ridge: sweet and fruity, with a mineral twist – perfect for a light lunch.

Figs, rocket, feta and pomegranate salad

Veg Curry, there was 4 of these small bowls

And desert. I have to confess. I have a very sweet tooth. Sometimes when we go out for dinner I only have desert. I cannot eat a whole meal and then allow myself to also indulge in chocolate or pudding – so I choose just desert. Here, I had expresso cream puffs: the puffs were light and so was the cream, not too sweet also. I easily ate all of them without feeling it was too much. However, I feel they could have tasted a bit more of expresso. I like coffee, but I also agree that it shouldn’t be overpowering, here I thought there was missing a bit of depth. Still, it was an enjoyable treat!

This restaurant is central, a nice little place to have a little rest before the afternoon walk. The service was personal and efficient.

Next post about my week end, will be about my walk in Bo-Kaap.

Exotic Fruit: meet the Jamblon

Jamblon, Java Plum, Jamun or Jamblang (Syzygium cumini) a few of the names for this strange little fruit. Looks like an olive, taste like – I don’t know actually what it tastes like exactly. It’s extremely tart, you get this dry thing happening in your mouth when you eat it. My mother in law lets them soak in salty water. As street food you get it with salt and chilli. The salt tends to take a bit of the tartness.

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I guess it is the kind of thing you get addicted too! or you don’t like it at all. I start eating them, and really I can’t stop until the bowl is finished. Also, you know it is very healthy as soon as you put it in your mouth – Vitamin C.  The leaves, the bark, the seeds can be used for all kinds of things. You can read about this little super-fruit here.

The evergreen tree grows very big and provides nice shade. It’s quite easy to spot on the roads, all the small purple fruits are everywhere on the ground.

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The evergreen tree, Syzygium Cumini, the one in the middle of the picture

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The leaves – unfortunately no pics of the fruits on the tree – they are too high up!

The tree is originally from India and the fruit is considered the fruit of the Gods; it was a favourite of Lord Ram in exile. It is also mentioned in Vayu Purana (a Sanskrit text and one of the eighteen major Puranas of Hinduism): “The fruits of the tree are very tasteful; One who regularly consumes the juice of the Jambu tree, does not suffer from old age, disease and can even resist death…” – Chapter 46, Verse 28/29.

Told you it was healthy!

Albion Lighthouse

Located 30 minutes drive south of Port Louis, it can make a good little stop on the way down south.

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To visit the lighthouse you have to request permission with the Mauritius Port Authority and you will receive the authorisation by letter. My kiddos really want to visit so I guess I have to make a request! Otherwise there are a couple of walks to do in the area – right or left of the light house. The scenery is beautiful. And who doesn’t like a lighthouse?

The official name is the Lighthouse of Pointe aux caves. It was inaugurated in 1910 and is the pride of the area. The building is 30m high and is still in use today to direct the boats. The view at the top goes from Le Morne in the South to Gunner’s Point at the North of the Island. It must be quite something!

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We were there during the day, but if it fits into a schedule it’s a perfect place to see the sunset.

This post has been ready for a few days, but just before the week end I noticed an article in Côte Nord (a Mauritian tourism and art de vivre magazine) about the lighthouse. I wanted to read it first, see if there was anything interesting in it. And yes, they talk about Polka, the guard of the lighthouse. The man you’d meet if ever you were to visit the place. He has been looking after the site for now 25 years and his story is touching: he came from an extremely poor family in Petite Rivière and would come all the way to the lighthouse to look for food for his sheep – he got to know the guard at that time who started to give him small jobs around the site and later on explaining him the way the lighthouse worked. When the man retired he put Polka in front for the job and he got it.

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Sunset Light

Yesterday, we were looking for some friends and went to check out the spot on the beach where they usually hang out in Pointe aux Cannoniers. They were not there, but the kiddos got busy jumping in the ocean. The sun was setting. Small waves were playing with the kids. Kiddo 2 jumped so high and then fell in the water, laughing with so much happiness because he thought it was so funny to be completely soaked. In 30 seconds it started to rain hard, that tropical summer rain, that makes you really wet.  We had to run back to the car. All of us soaking wet and laughing. Happiness. Pure joy.