Monday, 5 January 2015

Dream dinner destination

If you could have or make dinner anywhere in the world, where would it be, and what would you eat?

First of all, I don't think the actual place matters but the people I would be with. Being French, meals are our way of socialising and they are important family time as well. Meals are were important decisions are made, stories are told, memories are shared. A few weeks ago, I was trying to find a solution to a problem at work, and innocently said to my French colleague: "I don't know what to do, but I think I'm going to eat first", to which he replied "That's the French way alright. We always eat when we're stuck for an answer!" So there might be some Gallic attitude left in me after all...

Anyway, back to my point. If I had to choose a place, it would probably be on the seaside. My first thought is Mauritius of course, for the dream aspect of it. Imagine, a big wooden table, in the middle of the beach, at sunset. Fire torches all around would illuminate the place and we would hear the gentle sound of the waves kissing the shore, while we eat, drink and laugh...I know, I can keep dreaming, but this is my "Dream dinner destination", remember?

I would enjoy that meal with my family of course. Husband, kids, sisters, brothers and parents on both sides of the family and plenty of friends. The ones we never get to see. The ones who are back in France, still in Mauritius or are scattered around the world. It would be a big reunion and that wooden table would have to be massive!

This is probably where my dinner would take place...

What about the menu? When I travel, I always try to eat local and the first time I went to Mauritius, I experienced a very different food culture. I tried food I never thought existed thanks to my husband and family over there. We all speak the same language, but when they start talking créole very fast and use words I don't understand, I can get lost very easily. They use different words for fruits, vegetable and fish. Tomato is not "tomate" like in French, it's "Pomme d'amour" (love apple!), "Curry" is "Cari" and "Octopus" is "Ourite". If I knew that "Tangue" was "hedgehog" (or hérisson in French), I'm not sure I would have tried it...Good thing they told me after. Mind you, it's not very tasty as you have to eat it with a lot of spices and chilli, something I sill haven't got accustomed to.

Back to my menu. I'm salivating, just thinking about it. For starter, a big stuffed lobster like this:

Then, "Bol renversé" (upside down bowl). It's a bit like a stew with rice and an egg on top, but the trick is to put the preparation in a bowl and then unmold the whole thing:

If you're in the mood for seafood, like me, you would be delighted with this alternative main course (I can do what I want, it's my dream dinner!): "Cari Ourite" with farata (Octopus curry with faratas, which is a bit like fajitas)

And for dessert, "Banane flambée" (Flamed banana)

The dinner wouldn't be complete with local alcohol of course:

Phoenix Beer, the best Mauritian beer

Mauritian rhum

If I was in a country where I don't speak the language, I would try to get the menu translated by a local if possible. Even if it's done in a broken English of French, you can still grasp the meaning better than an automated translation, really experience the local culture and more than likely have a big laugh in the process... Sometimes, restaurants or food services websites underestimate the importance of a good translation service. If you don't understand what you're going to eat (like a hedgehog for example!) there's a good chance you'd be left disappointed and frustrated. That's where a translation software company that uses real human beings can be useful. 

Food can really connect people and when you can speak the same language, it's even better.