Hello everyone, I am going to tell you about Christmas traditions on Reunion Island, a French overseas department (DOM). The island is located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and south of Mauritius. At the crossroads of several continents, Reunion Island is renowned for its cultural melting pot, and the kindness and the sense of hospitality of its inhabitants. It is a volcanic island: The “Piton de la Fournaise” in the south of the island is still active, but it is an "Effusive" type volcano (and not explosive), therefore not dangerous for the population. The old extinct volcanoes have given birth to “circuses” (Mafate, Salazie and Cilaos) and have sculpted fabulous landscapes on the island that delight hikers. Reunion Island being located in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas therefore takes place in summer, a hot and humid season! To help you better understand the Christmas atmosphere on the island, I'm going to talk about our five senses.
How not to mention the flamboyant, the aptly named tree whose flowering peaks during the Christmas holidays? It is really the emblematic Christmas tree of Reunion Island, even if in the houses we find trees that are closer to the traditional Christmas tree like the araucaria. But when you see the flamboyants in bloom in Reunion Island, you immediately think of Christmas!
December is fruit season: Mangoes, Victoria Pineapple, but above all the famous lychees that can even be found on tables in mainland France at Christmas. The fairground market of Saint-Pierre is one of the most beautiful markets in France, and at the moment the smells of all these tropical fruits are deliciously intoxicating.
At Christmas, in Reunion Island, you don't stay locked up at home like in mainland France. No, we're going to picnics and parties on the beach! And when we say picnic, it's not with a plaid and a wicker basket. We do BIG things: We meet with family or friends, and we bring tables, chairs, dishes, pots and of course a sound system! We dance and sing the sega, the music of the Mascarenes (the archipelago which Reunion Island and Mauritius are part of). It is a fast and very catchy ternary music, sung in Reunion Creole of course. As it's Christmas, I share with you "Alo, Alo, Pèr Noël" (Hi, Santa Claus) by the Marmailles de Salazie (Kids from Salazie): https://fb.watch/hw83OFg5kR/
In Reunion Island, there are two “schools” for the Christmas meal: On the one hand the fans of the barbecue on the beach, with on the menu: grilled chicken, fish, skewers, the choice is vast! The meats are often prepared with marinades typical of the island: sweet and sour, spicy or pineapple for example. Others prefer to invite their family over and share more elaborate dishes, such as goose stew. On my end, I am going to share with you an essential recipe: Christian Antou’s version of The Pâté Créole (he is a great ambassador and defender of Reunionese cuisine):
- Pork meat 500 gr
- Lard (or butter) 250 gr
- Salt 2 tsp
- Turmeric 2 tbsp. coffee
- PM thyme
- PM Pepper
- Flour 1 kg
- Egg yolks 4 pieces
- Whole eggs 2 pieces
- Sugar 200g
- Baking powder 1 sachet
- Anisette 10 cl
(Godiveau) Combine the meat cut into small pieces, the lard, the salt (half), the turmeric, the pepper, and the thyme in a pot and leave to cook on a low heat, covered. Remove the pieces of meat and let the fat set.
Preparation of the dough:
Mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast and make a mound with a hole in the center. Place the very cold godiveau fat and the eggs in the center. Mix everything while adding the liqueur and work the dough in until it is homogeneous (the ball forms easily). Let it rest.
Roll out half of the dough, 1.5 cm thick. Slightly hollow out the center and add the meat. Roll the other half to the same thickness and cover, sealing the edges well. Decorate with the scraps of dough (flowers, a bunch of grapes, etc.) Glaze. Leave the pâté to harden in the fridge. Bake in the oven T 5 at around 150° for 1h to 1h30.
And finally, what better sensation on the skin than that offered by swimming in the waters of the lagoon at 28°C? " Too hot !” is what those who prefer to take refuge in the interior of the island, far from the tourist tumult to take a dip in a basin, like at the Grand Galet, with its magnificent waterfalls, will say.
In any case, in Reunion Island, there is something for everyone and Christmas is a real holiday appreciated by all!