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What’s Eaten Where: Mayotte

whats eaten where1

It doesn’t get more exotic than Mayotte! A land of abundant spices, unique flavours, and varying cuisines, this French overseas territory is part of the Comoros archipelago off south-east Africa, between Madagascar and Mozambique.

Today, the European Union’s outermost region struggles with poverty, unemployment and illegal immigration. And yet, for all that, it’s a beautiful, mystical place: encircled by tropical coral reef, laced with primal forest, regular stop-off for humpback whales, and home to magical spirits…

Possession by djinns (who apparently retain their identity from one possession to the next) is a regular occurrence here in Mayotte, with a quarter of the adult population reporting that they’re able to enter trance-like states and communicate with the supernatural at will…

whats eaten where2Perhaps it’s something they ate? Spices and herbs are the mainstay of island cuisine, and scientists suggest there’s a wealth of indigenous flora which remains, as yet, unknown in the west; among the better known flavourings are nutmeg, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves – and no dish is considered complete without its herbs and spices.

Thanks to the diversity of cultures, there’s no one, specific dish which typifies Mayotte cuisine. Instead, we get an abundance of tastes, influenced by the gastronomy of India, Arabia, Africa, Portugal and France. All of which makes for endless varieties of the staple meal: meat and rice…

The former is usually chicken, goat, or mutton, while sorghum, millet, or maize is occasionally substituted for the latter. But seafood also has its place on the menu (grouper, tuna, and octopus dishes are fairly common, and prawns and shrimps are enjoyed in abundance), while soups and stews made from beans or squash are popular among the poorer communities. If you are able to afford a little meat, chicken is usually the favourite: stewed in peanut and tomato sauce, or marinated in an onion-mustard mixture and cooked over the coals.

As long as you add your herbs and spices (the right condiments in the right amount are considered crucial to any dish, both for flavouring and colouring), you’ve got an authentic Mayotte dish: exotic, spicy, and completely unique!

 

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