In addition to being a natural paradise, due to its beauty and welcoming climate, Reunion is a paradise for food lovers.
The exceptional origins of its cuisine and its colourful recipes make this island a real treasure. In particular, it holds products such as cane sugar, vanilla bourbon, turmeric and pointed bourbon coffee which are reputed to be the best products of their kind in the world!
“The earth is so fertile that you only have to stick your finger in it for it to take root”… that’s how the Reunionese talk about their island.”
The tropical climate of the island combined with the fresh rains of the mountains creates ideal conditions for the fertility of the land! Everything grows there!
The famous bourbon vanilla
It takes its name from the old name of the island: Bourbon Island. Its smell is incomparable as it’s so delicious.
This Reunionese speciality of the orchid family grows on the trees of the forest.
These pods aren’t easy. The first flowers only appear after three years and each one gives a unique pod!
Then there’s the drying. The pods, are initially green and odourless, then become black and fragrant after a long time drying.
How to choose the perfect vanilla:
In order to choose the right type of vanilla for your use, it is important to know its different technical classifications, in order of quality.
Black: This is the premium vanilla with the highest moisture content. Rare, very fat and supple, black in colour tending slightly towards brown, it has a very chocolaty fragrance and is easy to split.
Ideal for gourmet cuisine.
Brown: This is a high quality vanilla. It differs from black vanilla by its lower moisture content and its brownish or reddish colour in some places. Ideal for refined cooking.
Slit: This is vanilla that is naturally split when the pod reaches maturity. Unsplit, these pods would have been graded black or brown, but the quality is retained.
Short: They are vanilla of mixed qualities and sizes smaller than 14 cm (the initial size).
Turmeric on your plate
Another well-known Reunionese speciality is turmeric, an essential spice that is used in all cari recipes, the emblematic Creole dish of Reunion Island.
Intense orange in color, it has such a high tinting strength that its pickers are nicknamed “yellow legs”.
They are now available in pieces, powder or even as a food supplement!
To choose the right turmeric, it is important to look at the origin.
Indeed, Asian turmeric contains less curcumin, the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial found in curcuma.
In spite of its importance, local production is small. Reunion only produces 20 tons per year. That’s not even enough for the island’s consumption!
A coffee called Bourbon Pointu
Pointed Bourbon coffee is a variety of Arabica, naturally transformed and then replanted on Reunion.
To obtain this quality, it must be grown at an altitude between 650 and 1,000, and away from warm, humid and sunny conditions. The island is the perfect place!
Slow infusion brewing is the best way to reveal its aromas. The aromas are round, sweet and diffuse notes of roasted hazelnuts, citrus and cocoa as they cool. It’s low in caffeine and bitterness.
Cane sugar is made from sugar cane which is first reduced and then washed. It is better than white sugar because it receives less treatment and has a soft layer of molasses. This gives it its brown color and aromas of vanilla and rum.
A bit of history
The island was uninhabited until the 17th century, when only sailors stopped there to get fresh water.
Having become a French territory, it was named Bourbon Island in homage to the royal family on the throne at that time. The royal family used it to plant coffee and sugar cane.
The name was definitively changed to Reunion when slavery was abolished in 1848. Used by the planters to replace the slaves, many Indians and Chinese came to settle on the island.
The gastronomy of Reunion has become unique in the world and in the image of its population, which is a mixture of these different cultures.