Food In French Polynesia
Alongside paradise landscapes, tropical beaches and heavenly islands, French Polynesian cuisine is equally as alluring. Due to the archipelago’s location in the South Pacific, French Polynesian food is heavily influenced by the island’s natural abundance of seafood, tropical fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, French cuisine is another important influence, and if you travel to French Polynesia you’ll find all manner of delicious pastries served up alongside fresh fruit for breakfast! Colourful, fresh and healthy are all words you could use to describe traditional French Polynesian food and these are some of the most common dishes you’ll find on the menu at any local restaurant:
Translated in French as ‘raw fish’, Poisson Cru is the national dish of Tahiti and her islands. Bearing resemblance to the South American dish of ceviche, Poisson Cru consists of raw fish, most commonly tuna, marinated in lime juice and coconut milk. The sweetness of the coconut milk compliments the acidity of the lime juice perfectly. The marinated fish is served alongside fresh vegetables and traditionally served on a banana leaf.
This authentic Polynesian dish is cooked in a traditional ahima’a oven or pit barbeque. The main ingredient is chicken, a protein source used in many French Polynesian dishes. The chicken is browned and combined with onion, garlic, ginger and coconut milk to create a creamy, flavoursome dish, usually accompanied by taro leaves.
A traditional Tahitian barbeque would be incomplete without Po’e pudding for dessert! A simple fruit pudding, Po’e is made by combining mashed bananas with arrowroot and baking the mixture in an ahima’a pit oven. The mixture sets into a pudding-like consistency and is then cut into smaller pieces and served with a generous dollop of coconut cream and perhaps some fresh fruit.
One of the most traditional yet unusual dishes on the French Polynesian menu, Fafaru is a fermented fish dish. Not for the faint of heart, yet surprisingly tasty, Fafaru is made by fermenting tuna fish in a marinade of pickled seawater. The pickled seawater is created by fermenting crushed shrimps and crabs in fresh seawater for a number of days. The aroma of the fermented fish might turn heads, but the result is surprisingly sweet-tasting and loved by locals and visitors alike. The marinated tuna is often served alongside coconut cream.
A more accessible and downright delicious Polynesian dish is Firi Firi, or Tahitian doughnuts. Frequently served up as a breakfast dish, the dough is typically made with flour, sugar, coconut milk, yeast, water, and a pinch of salt and is shaped into individual figure-8s. The figure-8-shaped pieces of dough are then deep-fried until golden brown and delicious and either dusted with sugar are served with fresh fruit. What better way to start a morning in French Polynesia?
In case you haven’t noticed already, coconuts play a leading role in French Polynesian cuisine! Growing on trees across the archipelago, coconut trees are the most abundant tree in the country and therefore, you can’t venture far without stopping for a refreshing drink of coconut water if you travel to French Polynesia. Preferably served up straight from the coconut itself, coconut water is reported to have incredible health benefits and is full of hydrating electrolytes. An integral part of French Polynesian cuisine and culture, be sure to hydrate with fresh coconut water if you travel to these paradise islands!