Cooking up a whole new culture

Top left: sauce blanche chou chou (chokos in white sauce). Top right: Macaroni and corn beef. Second row left: salade russe (potato salad with egg and beetroot), eggplant pickle, roasted ox tongue (la langue roti). Bottom: croquettes, a Mauritian gajack served with drinks as a finger food.
Image: D. Loram
Source: D. Loram

The blending of French, African, Indian and Chinese cultures has produced some distinctive cultural crossovers in the cuisine.

Aside from some traditional French dishes, there are also distinct Creole, Mauritian and Rodriguan dishes. Early Creole cooks created meals out of local seafood, introduced game such as wild boar and deer, and staples such as manioc. Building on traditional French dishes, they absorbed and adapted other incoming culinary traditions. Traditional Creole cuisine, including dishes such as rougaille, combines the garlic and thyme of regional French cooking with tomatoes, ginger, chillies and salt fish.

Rodriguan cuisine is predominately Creole; favourites are rougaille saucisse creole mais and haricots rouges. Mauritian food today shows a dominant Indian influence but often has a French or Creole twist, reflected in dishes such as venison curry or prawn soufflé. There are also Mauritian versions of Chinese dishes. When it comes to desserts a French influence prevails, although Chinese and Indian sweets are also popular.

All cuisines have travelled well to Victoria. Families took care to bring essential cooking equipment such as the roche carri. Many people still cook traditional dishes at home and no community gathering is complete without food.

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