French Polynesia is a collection of over 118 islands (such as the gorgeous Bora Bora) in the Pacific Ocean, and it is renowned for its stunning scenery, turquoise waters, and lush tropical vegetation. The local cuisine is a fusion of traditional Polynesian, French, and Chinese influences, creating a unique and flavorful food culture. In this guide, we’ll explore the origin of traditional French Polynesian food and drinks and the most popular dishes that tourists must try during their visit.
The Polynesian people were some of the first settlers of the Pacific Islands, and their diet was heavily based on seafood, root crops, and fruits. When French settlers arrived in the 19th century, they brought with them their culinary traditions, including the use of wine, butter, and cheese. Over time, these influences combined to create a unique culinary style that has become a defining characteristic of French Polynesian cuisine.
One of the most popular and traditional dishes in French Polynesia is Poisson Cru, also known as raw fish marinated in coconut milk. This dish is typically made with fresh tuna or mahi-mahi and served with vegetables, such as cucumber, carrot, and tomato. The fish is marinated for several hours in coconut milk, lime juice, and spices, resulting in a refreshing and flavorful dish that is a staple of Polynesian cuisine.
Another must-try dish is Mahi Mahi in a Banana Leaf, a succulent grilled fish that is wrapped in banana leaves and slow-cooked over hot coals. This dish is often served with steamed rice and a variety of local vegetables, including taro, yams, and plantains. The banana leaf helps to retain the moisture and flavor of the fish, making it one of the most delicious and satisfying dishes in French Polynesia.
For a more substantial meal, visitors should try the Tahitian Chicken, a traditional dish made with chicken, coconut milk, and local spices. The chicken is slow-cooked in a flavorful broth and served with steamed rice, making it a hearty and filling meal. This dish is a perfect representation of the fusion of Polynesian and French cuisine, combining the bold flavors of local spices with the richness of French ingredients.
When it comes to drinks, French Polynesia is famous for its tropical cocktails, including the Mai Tai, a refreshing blend of rum, orange liqueur, and tropical juices. This classic cocktail was first created in Tahiti in the 1930s and has since become a staple of Polynesian cuisine. Visitors should also try the Ti Punch, a simple but potent mixture of rum, lime, and sugar syrup. This drink is a popular after-dinner tipple and is the perfect way to unwind after a long day of exploring.
Another must-try drink is the non-alcoholic Hinano Beer, a crisp and refreshing beer that is brewed in French Polynesia. This beer is made with local ingredients and is the perfect accompaniment to a meal or as a refreshing drink on a hot day.
Another popular dish is the Crepe Tahitienne, a delicious and sweet dessert crepe that is filled with vanilla custard and topped with fresh fruit. This dish is a testament to the French influence on Polynesian cuisine, and it is a must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth. The crepes are typically served hot, making them the perfect treat after a long day of exploring the island.
In conclusion, French Polynesian cuisine is a unique and delicious fusion of Polynesian, French, and Chinese flavors that offer visitors a memorable culinary experience. From savoring the traditional raw fish dish, Poisson Cru, to indulging in the sweet treats of Crepe Tahitienne, there is something for everyone in this tropical paradise. Don’t forget to sample the local cocktails, such as Mai Tai, to truly immerse yourself in the flavors of French Polynesian cuisine. So come and discover the taste of French Polynesia, where every bite and sip is a journey through the lush and exotic islands.