We just got a package from the mum of a very good friend from La Réunion. It’s always exciting to get a present from abroad. When you are an expat, it’s always something special when others think about you. You seem to get forgotten somehow – well I guess it’s normal. So you make friends, some of these friends become a little (or a lot) like family. It’s amazing how many uncles and aunts the kiddos have, on several continents. This one comes from an aunty’s family!
To start with a couple of jams and a jelly from Royal Bourbon. My favourite is the one on the left, Ananas Victoria et Passion (Pineapple and Passion fruit). It holds a whooping 76% fruit, and that is the biggest difference from the Mauritian stuff – I prefer these ones so much more. The Victoria pineapple is the local pineapple, small and very sweet. On the right another one that is also nice, mango and passion fruit. In the middle is a goyavier jelly. Goyavier (or Goyave de Chine, strawberry guava) is a small red guava, native from South America. It has been introduced to both islands at some point. Here in Mauritius they grow wild in the Southern part of the island (I don’t know about la Réunion) and it is a nearly a national sport to go fruit picking when in season (that happens to be now). Am looking very much forward tasting this one. The fruit is a bit sour and has small grains insides. There is also a yellow one, it’s a bit bigger and a bit sweeter. The red one is the island’s favourite though.
What else was in the package…
Another local speciality is achard. Achard is a condiment, used a bit like chutney, but not sweet – this is savoury, made on vegetables or citrus fruit. It can be very spicy or not at all. The impression I have (but I can be wrong!) is that the Mauritian ones are more spicy in taste than the ones from the sister island. The left one, that I had never tried before, has become a favourite in the house, it comes on the table for all the meals since we got it. The one on the right is Achards Chou de Coco – it is like heart of palm, but this one is the heart of the very tender new leafs – the new ones that come out on the top of the tree – a very subtile taste. Finally in the middle – Litchi honey. I have never tasted this one from la Réunion and am very excited about it. There are a lot of litchi trees on the island, and this honey is made from the flowers – it’s my favourite honey, I really love the taste.
Two more things in the box. Chocolate – this one is made on La Réunion. I love the size of these, so convenient in a house where we don’t eat a lot of chocolates. Mascarin is the only chocolate producer on the little island. They also make sirops and sugar. A Foodie box from la Réunion would never be complete with curcuma. The best of all curcuma, much more flavourful than those coming from Asia. It is produced the traditional way and only the heart of the root is used. This spice is used in all the Creole dishes from la Réunion – this is what gives the particular taste and colour to their dishes.
Even though the dishes are very similar from one island to another – the tastes and cooking methods differ quite a bit.