I like I love food. And when I travel, one of the most important thing for me is to try local specialties. And that’s what I did while on Reunion Island.
Thanks to our amazing local guides, we found a little gem of a restaurant in Etang-Salé : Chez Mouss! It’s situated on Raymond Barre avenue, not far from the supermaket Super U and the town hall. They don’t have a website, so you’ll have to trust me on this : they’re amazing ! Food is tasty and the owner is adorable. Their menu changes everyday, according to what’s available and the chef’s mood, but what doesn’t change is the arranged rhum at the end of the meal. And it’s homemade (and well made !). Bonus point : their prices are so cheap !
All meals from the Reunion Island usually have rice, lentils and “rougail” on the side.
Typical meal from the Mascarene Islands (Maurice, Rodrigues, Reunion, and some little islands around). This meal is made from tomatoes, garlic, onions, ginger and bird’s eye chile. Other ingredients can be added according to taste. Most of the time, you’ll eat sausage rougail, but it can be prepared with other meat and fish as well.
We tried the recipe as soon as we got back home in Belgium. Great succes !
There’s a side also called rougail : a very spicy sauce (you can see it on the lower left corner of the image) made from minced oignons and ginger, and some chiles.
The word carry (or carri) is the main dish on the Reunion island, that’s why you’ll see all kind of carries on restaurants menus. Its name comes from Indian curries, which is quite close to this.
To make a carry, you’ll need : onions, garlic, thyme, curcuma, ginger and tomatoes (exept for chicken carry).
But then you’ll ask, what is the difference between rougail and carry ? Well, the two meals are quite similar, and the only difference between them would only be the spices used to prepare them.
The Boucané is not a dish, but a piece of smoked meat (pork, bacon, chicken). The name comes from the word “boucan”, which was the place ameridians would smoke their meat to store it before the fridge was invented 🙂 Chez Mouss, the boucané we ate was pork, and it was delicious !
It’s actually a stew, prepared from duck, oignons and red wine. I might be redundant, but it’s delicious !
Made from (don’t be disgusted) meat blood, its actually pretty good. The one from the Reunion Island is… well, quite spicy. As they would say “it’s not too spicy… but you might want to eat bread with it!” 😀 (we had it for breakfast, not the best idea we had, I have to admit, but it was very good).
“Grattons de porc”
I didn’t find a way to translate that 😀 And I’m not sure it’s typical from the Reunion, but they are sold everywhere so, of course, we had to try them. I will quote Wikipedia, they are “adipose tissue from the pork, fried in their grease”. So appetizing, right ? Well, we didn’t enjoy them per se, but hey, give it a try and let me know 🙂
Well, yes, as party people from Belgium, we just HAD to try the local beer : the Dodo. You will read and hear its slogan everywhere : “La Dodo lé là!”, and yep, the Dodo was there ! And this slogan became our motto during this trip. Not worth a good Belgian beer, of course, but it’s still pretty good. And the Dodo on the label is quite cute 😀
A bit more perfumed than the one from Madagascar, Bourbon vanilla from the Reunion tastes amazing. It will give a neat taste to your meals and desserts. You will find it, among others, on Saint Paul’s market (on Fridays and Saturdays).
Bird’s eye chile
It takes its name from the fact that birds love them ! They eat the chile and reject their seeds in their droppings. They are found a lot in sugar cane fields. Bird’s eye chiles are a level 8 on Scoville Scale, a bit stronger than Cayenne pepper.
Of course, I couldn’t end this article without speaking about the famoux Reunion Island rhum. You will find it evrywhere, and in all its forms : pure, arrange and ti’ punch.
Arranged rhum : pure rhum (mostly white) macerated during several months with all the ingredients you want : fruits, spices, vanilla, you name it !
Ti’ punch : it’s rhum mixed with juices. Like a cocktail.
We paid a visit to the Isautier distillery, which was quite informative. And, at the end, you get to taste the rhum. Isn’t that a treat ?! 🙂
Dessert chez Mouss’ : coffee with arranged rhum 🙂