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Food and Cocktails

CLICK to enlarge. Tahitian cocktails
They are often made from coconut, pineapple, banana, mango and other fresh fruit.

Here are some samples:

  • Maitai (Tahiti's most famous cocktail): White rum, brown rum, fresh pineapple juice, a capful of Cointreau.
  • Pina Lagoon: This other cocktail is made of four equal parts of coconut milk, sugar cane syrup, white rum, pineapple concentrate, the whole thing blended with ice.
  • Banana coralia: is made of crushed fresh bananas, with 1/5 coconut milk, squeezed orange juice, a shot of strawberry syrup, the whole thing blended with ice.  
  • Maeva (no alcohol) : This cocktail is made of pineapple juice, 1/5 orange juice large pieces of fresh watermelon, everything blended with ice topped with  a shot of strawberry syrup.

And here, in hotels and bars, creative cocktails are served which are refreshing, tasty with or without alcohol.

 

 

 

 

CLICK to enlarge. The Ahima'a (traditional underground Tahitian oven)

The " ahima'a " goes back on a long way with the Ma’ohi. Ahi means fire and ma'a means food. All the ingredients are cooked covered in a large hole dug in the ground. Meals were prepared that way in the old days.

Today, the "ahima'a" is mostly prepared on Sunday and for the holidays. Most hotels feature this complete meal once a week, along with a great show in costumes organised in the garden or on the beach. Let's mention " Chez Serge " in Moorea, where it is the restaurant's specialty;  inquire directly about days when they prepare the Tahitian oven. Depending on the number of guests, the ground oven can be 3 meters long by over a meter wide. Fire wood is laid in it with volcanic stones before setting the fire. When coals are red, the food is delicately lowered after being wrapped in banana leaves or inside baskets quickly woven from coconut leaves. Today, a large metal mesh is also used to be easily lifted when the meal is ready. Among the most appreciated meals, chicken fafa, steamed fish, milk piglet, shrimps and lobsters, various po'e (banana, papaya, etc.) and the whole range of local vegetables such as taro, tarua, fe'i, yams, sweet potatoes, not to mention the uru. The whole thing is covered with banana leaves or purao leaves. A last layer of soil makes the oven air tight. Cooking takes all morning. In general 4 to 6 hours are needed to obatain the best taste.  The opening of the oven is an occasion of great joy, accompanied with singing. The various foods are displayed in umete, on long tables, near the"poisson cru" and the fafaru*. Get ready for a surprising and original tasting experience. 

 Typical vegetables

CLICK to enlarge.The breadfruit: The Uru was the basic traditional vegetable of the Polynesian's ancestors (as a historical footnote, the original mission of the Bounty was to bring back these " breadfruit trees " to Europe and the Carribeans). We still count today about forty varieties of uru throughout our islands. the most appreciated are the "puero" (firm meat with hazelnut taste, yellow skin with brown spots), the "ma’ohi" (most common, with white meat), the "paea", the "huero" (greener skin) and the "afaraa". The uru is ripe when you see the milky substance bead through the skin. It can be eaten raw or cooked with pua toro (corned beef) and onions. The Marquesans let it ferment to make popoi. Like other vegetables, the uru is rich in vitamins and very energetic.

Bananas: There are many varieties of bananas in Polynesia. They differ by their aspect, but mostly by their taste. The best bananas are the "rio" and the "hamoa", sweet varieties, eaten raw when fully ripe. The cooking banana (musa paradisiaca) "maohi" or "fei" is a starchy vegetable to be cooked before being eaten, as done with taro or uru. To preserve the fei's nutritional values, the Polynesians cooked them in the ahima’a, with the skin.

The yams (ufi) : From the dioscoreaceas species, this root is found in many varieties in Polynesia. The yam is rather tender and possesses excellent energetic qualities despite a low vitamin content. Its all-purpose taste lets it accompany every day's meat or fish meals.

Roots (Taro and Tarua) : There are a dozen varieties of taro in our islands, among which the "apo" or "veo". The "manaura" taro and the "veo rarotoa" also belong to the most common species. In the same family, the tarua, with a slightly different taste, is eaten like taro. This big root family possesses energetic qualities as well as a great content of iron and calcium.

CLICK to enlarge.The Fafa : This is another variety of taro, often called "Polynesian spinach", only the leaves and young shoots of which are eaten. It must be cooked in salt water to avoid a slight irritation on the tongue when eaten. The fafa is traditionally served with chicken, but it goes very well with roasted pig.

Sweet potato (Umara, Uma’a) : From the convolvulaceas species (pomea batatas), the umara is present under many varieties (over 100). The most common are the "re'a moa" or the "toru ava'e papara". With a sweet taste, sweet potato is rich in Vitamine A. The umara with purple inside are cooked the same way as potatoes (even French fried!). Sweet potato with yellow flesh is sweeter, but also more fragile and brittle. This is why it is always cooked with the skin. Sweet potatoes were present in Polynesia before the Europeans. It is however not found in Southeast Asia, where the Polynesians' ancestors came from. In fact, sweet potato could have been imported from the South American continent by the Polynesians themselves during their long trips across the ocean, and therefore before the arrival of the Europeans. Another theory is that it was introduced in the 16th century by the Spaniards (Mendana) who reached the Marquesas in 1595. Another possibility is that it had always been there, since its origin, on the mysterious Austral continent sunk by some cataclysm, and of which our islands would be the last remnants. Ma’ohi legends die hard, but they are so beautiful).

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