Capturing Mauritius’s Rich Heritage Through its Culinary Delights

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culinary heritage

This captivating narrative delves into the heart of Mauritius, unraveling its history and culture, one delicious morsel at a time. From the bustling streets of Port Louis to the serene shores of Tamarin Bay, we explore the island’s diverse culinary heritage that has been meticulously preserved by its passionate food artisans.

Baby Allken: A Keeper of Tradition
Nestled at the entrance of Port Louis’ Central Market fresh produce hall, Baby Allken’s fruit stall is a testament to a bygone era. Established in the 1840s during the colonial period, the market still boasts remnants of that time, including intricate wrought iron gates. Baby’s stall is a treasure trove of flavors, with the renowned Victoria pineapple, island-grown guavas, crisp apples, and lychee-like longans, affectionately known as ‘dragon eye.’ At 66 years old, Baby is a living legend, and it’s even said that the Victoria pineapple was named in his honor. Yet, as his children pursue successful careers in international banking, the fate of his beloved stall remains uncertain.

Ahmed Khodabaksh: Crafting Dholl Puri Masterpieces
Ahmed Khodabaksh’s day starts at the crack of dawn, at 3 am precisely. Why? Because creating the perfect dholl puri, a Mauritian street food delicacy, is an art that demands patience and precision. These puris are similar to roti but possess a softer, silkier texture. Ahmed’s stall, aptly named ‘Mimosa,’ has been a family affair for generations, and even though it has moved from the bustling pavement to a quieter side alley, it continues to draw loyal patrons. The secret to his success? Dedication and a passion for perfecting his craft.

Brenda Anthony-Nellan: A Taste of Tamarin Bay
Every day except Mondays, Brenda Anthony-Nellan sets up her stall on the picturesque Tamarin Bay, a haven for surfers and a fishing community. The stall, passed down from her father, is not just a place to savor delicious Mauritian cuisine but also a living testament to her father’s wisdom. He believed that the best way to learn cooking was through observation. As a janitor at Happy Valley, a long-standing Cantonese restaurant, he absorbed culinary secrets. Brenda’s mine frire, reminiscent of chow mein, is a mouthwatering delight, elevated with her punchy coriander chutney and a dash of acidic vinegar.

Mario de l’Estrac: Keeping Tradition Alive at Karay Mario
Mario de l’Estrac is a guardian of Mauritian home cooking traditions. However, he fears that these cherished recipes are fading into obscurity due to our modern, fast-paced lives. In response, just a few years after retiring, he opened ‘Karay Mario’ on the outskirts of Mahebourg, a bustling fishing town. Here, each day’s menu is an ode to the morning’s freshest ingredients, be it fish, vegetables, or other local produce. Mario’s dedication to preserving tradition shines through every dish he serves.

Donovan Pallancy: Mastering the Art of Boulettes
When it comes to the Mauritian delicacy known as boulettes, Donovan Pallancy reigns supreme. Despite his Chinese heritage and upbringing, Donovan had to teach himself the art of crafting these delectable dumplings. His journey is a testament to the island’s fusion of cultures, resulting in unique and delightful flavors.

A Culinary Journey Awaits
Mauritius, with its rich culinary heritage, offers a treasure trove of flavors waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a food enthusiast or a traveler seeking new experiences, Mauritius beckons with open arms. From the vibrant streets of Port Louis to the tranquil beauty of Tamarin Bay, this island paradise promises a culinary journey like no other.

Plan Your Trip
To embark on your own gastronomic adventure in Mauritius, you can catch a direct flight from Heathrow on Air Mauritius or from Gatwick on British Airways. There are various accommodation options to choose from, such as The Ravenala Attitude Hotel, Lakaz Chamarel, and Sunrise Attitude Hotel, catering to different budgets and preferences. Don’t miss the opportunity to join food tours offered by My Moris and Taste Buddies in Port Louis, where you can immerse yourself in the island’s culinary delights.

Published in the Indian Ocean supplement, distributed with the September 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).

If you’re hungry for more travel inspiration, consider subscribing to National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine.

Mauritius, a land of culinary wonders, awaits your discovery. It’s time to savor the flavors of this enchanting island.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about culinary heritage

Q: What is the significance of the Victoria pineapple in Mauritius?

A: The Victoria pineapple, named after Baby Allken, a fruit stall owner in Port Louis, Mauritius, is smaller and sweeter than other varieties. It holds historical importance as a symbol of the island’s rich fruit heritage.

Q: How does Ahmed Khodabaksh create his dholl puri?

A: Ahmed Khodabaksh, known for his dholl puri, starts his day at 3 am to boil and crush yellow split peas into a dough, giving puris their signature silkiness. These are the foundation of his renowned Mauritian street food, dholl puri.

Q: What makes Brenda Anthony-Nellan’s mine frire special?

A: Brenda’s mine frire, reminiscent of chow mein, stands out due to its umami-rich and slightly tangy flavor. It pairs perfectly with her punchy coriander chutney and a dash of acidic vinegar.

Q: Why did Mario de l’Estrac open ‘Karay Mario’?

A: Mario de l’Estrac opened ‘Karay Mario’ to preserve traditional Mauritian home cooking, fearing that these beloved recipes were fading due to lack of time and interest among modern generations.

Q: How did Donovan Pallancy master the art of making boulettes?

A: Donovan Pallancy, despite his Chinese heritage, had to teach himself the art of making boulettes. His journey reflects the fusion of cultures in Mauritius, resulting in unique and delightful flavors.

Q: How can I plan a culinary adventure in Mauritius?

A: To explore Mauritius’s culinary delights, you can fly directly from Heathrow or Gatwick. Accommodation options cater to various budgets. Consider joining food tours in Port Louis offered by My Moris and Taste Buddies to immerse yourself in the island’s cuisine.

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2 comments

TravelBug123 September 16, 2023 - 12:15 pm

I’ve always wanted to visit Port Louis, and dis article just fueled my wanderlust. Gotta try dat dholl puri!

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MauritiusExplorer September 17, 2023 - 1:45 am

Nice info on Tamarin Bay, mate! Surfin’ and grubbin’ – sounds like paradise!

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