The tropical island of Reunion is tucked away between Madagascar and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Although it’s a department of France, it blends Indian, Chinese, African and European cultures, each contributing spices, herbs and ingredients to create a unique Creole cuisine. The volcanic island also consists of micro-climates that are perfectly suited to grow sugar cane, tropical fruit and spices such as turmeric and vanilla. Here is a look at some of the fruit, spices and flowers of Reunion that make the island so vividly colorful.
1. A restaurant window with a basket of fruit in the small town of Hellbourg.
2. Afternoon raindrops glisten on a red and green anthurium. While September and October are the driest months, May to June is quiet and November to March is hot and humid.
3. Anthuriums in the garden of Maison Folio in Hellbourgh. This misty mountain town is in the cirque of Salazie in the east of Reunion.
4. Bananas eaten fresh from the tree in the Garden of Perfume and Spices near St Philippe.
5. Bouchons are steamed dumplings inherited from Chinese immigrants to Reunion. Any filling can be used and it is served as snacks when friends come for drinks. These were served at Tapacala in Ilet-a-Cordes.
6. Chocolate brownie with goyavier sorbet as served at Diana Dea Lodge in St Anne.
7. Coffee (in front) and pepper are both grown in Reunion.
8. Dragonfruit in the volcano. Join guide Regis Riviere on a hike to the peak of Piton de la Fournaise and you will taste exotic fruit as part of your picnic lunch.
9. Espadon or swordfish is a fish commonly eaten by the Reunionaise. At Iloha Seaview Hotel, smoked swordfish is served on a bed of lettuce, tomatoes and sprinkled with toasted pine kernels.
10. French heritage combined with island produce- chocolate fondant served with pineapple sorbet.
11. Goyavier, avocado and mandarins with homemade pickles and achards for sale at street stall in St Pierre.
12. Macaroons and honey spun sweets at a breakfast shop in St Pierre.
13. Maize meal tart with white guava, drizzled with honey and vanilla sugar for the coffee. A typical Creole dessert served at a picnic lunch at Tapacala, near Cilaos.
14. Orange wine, guava rum and all kinds of exotic beverages are made in Reunion. Grape varieties used are mostly Pinot Noir, Malbec and Chenin Blanc.
15. Roasted chicken, baguettes, achards, chillies and potato salad are local staples sold at a street market in Riviere-Saint-Louis.
16. Simply luxurious. The food at the 5-star Lux- Reunion is fresh honest fare- fish kebabs with fries and a combava (kaffir lime) cream.
17. Special sugarcane is cultivated for Reunion rum. Rum is also flavoured with a variety of fruits such as goyavier (strawberry guava), tamarind and passionfruit.
18. Still life in purple and orange – an anthurium in the garden at Maison Folio.
19. Tamarillo or tree tomatoes are grown in Cilaos, a mountain town in the circque of Cilaos. It is eaten fresh, juice or as a jam.
20. The 4-star Boucan Canot Hotel in St-Gilles-Les-Bains is famed for its food such as the grilled pineapple carpaccio with coconut sorbet.
21. The Pizza Creole at La Trattoria is served with a spicy smoked sausage and fresh green chillies. Pizza is a popular snack and also served at roadside snack bars.
22. These little ‘volcanoes’ have a moist rum and vanilla interior inside a caramelised shell and are served at La Marmite restaurant in St Philippe.
23. This purple orchid is one of 120 species on the island of Reunion. About 20% of these are found only on this island.
24. Typical snacks. Rum punch and corn cakes are served after an aquahike with Aquasens near Langevin.
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