Mauritius is a delicious destination. It’s foodie heaven. This tiny little Indian Ocean island paradise is a fragrant pressure cooker of the cuisines of many nations that have had a hand in its history, its culture and its heritage.
While the island’s dining is most easily (by those with little imagination) described as ‘Creole’, it’s more – much, much more than bijou-style cooking. Mauritians cook, serve and eat a banquet that combines French, African, Chinese and Indian cuisine. Yet each of these distinctive palates are greatly enriched by the unique flair, flavours and freshness of ingredients that make the national menu uniquely Mauritian. And mouth-wateringly Mauritian, too.
It’s a blend of the exotic and spicy; the soothing and enticing; the fresh and pickled. It makes a Mauritian holiday as yum-yum as it is relaxing and beautiful.
Seafood, naturally, takes centre stage in Mauritian diets. The bounty of the Indian Ocean is but a few yards from most front doors, and a huge selection of fish and seafood is always easily at hand. The ocean harvest is prepared in a dizzying variety of ways: from smoked and dried fish (perfectly paired with equally bountiful fruits and freshly-baked bread), to bouillabaisses of crustaceans and bubbling casseroles of line fish. It’s like eating direct from the ocean: delicious, healthy and as fresh as only fish caught this morning can be.
The delights of your hotel banquet table will ensure you are first in line when the dining hall opens. However, it’s worth your while to spend some time (and indulge some of your appetite) outside the hotel to sample the real treats of authentic Mauritian food: the street food.
Here aroma and flavour await in offerings such as coconut water (decanted fresh from the fruit and the very definition of ‘delicious); fresh fruit salad smothered in chili and tamarind preserve (heavenly); fragrant curries; beautiful, freshly-baked, buttery breads; and out-of-this world noodles served with toppings prepared in front of you while you wait.
You have to try dholl puris. This pancake-style flatbread is on offer everywhere: in the linen and fine crystal bedecked dining rooms of five-star hotels and from vendors on street corners at one of the many colourful, bustling Mauritian markets. It’s often eaten as an accompaniment to any of the mouth-watering Mauritian curries. Dholl puris is sublime: filling, tasty and authentically Mauritian. It’s always served in twos, accompanied by a bean relish, tomato chutney, onions, ginger and garlic. It’s the perfectly balanced, perfectly delicious meal.
Then there’s also the Mauritian tradition of crispy frying. It’s a favourite way of preparing duck, pork, fish (especially squid) and chicken. Crispy fried foods are typically served with black bean or oyster sauce, giving a heavenly balance of taste and texture.
All these fine foods make a foodie tourist thirsty, and in Mauritius thirsts are quenched in a whole lot of ways. The island’s water is completely potable so drink your fill without worry. However, if you’d like something with more flavour, you need to sink a glass or two of Alouda Glacé. This is a milk-based, basil flavoured drink that is the chilled, go-to refresher of locals on hot summer days. As a special treat, a scoop of ice-cream is sometimes added to the Alouda Glacé, making it impossible to resist.
Mauritius is world-famous for the fine rum that it produces, and no visit there is complete without sampling this exotic island drink. It’s served in a variety of ways: in teas, distilled with vanilla (another famous Mauritian flavour) and sugar, mixed into a dazzling number of delicious cocktails, and on the rocks… or with your favourite mixer.
Find a heavenly view, put your feet up and order a Mauritian rum. Toast your good fortune, and your good sense in choosing Mauritius for your holiday. Aren’t you glad you arrived hungry and thirsty?