Mauritian favourites: the royal pineapple
A pineapple is always welcome at any Mauritian table. Whether in cocktails, fruit salads or tropical fruit platters, pineapples bring a unique flavour that’s vividly expressed in our island cuisine.
Mauritius has a long and close history with this South American fruit from the Bromeliaceae family. By the 19th century, pineapples were under cultivation in Port Louis, where the Jardin de la Compagnie stands today. The fruit – crowned with rigid spiky leaves and an orange peel – is available all year round due to the island’s favourable climate, with the Queen Victoria being the most common variety. Small and tasty, it has now been exported to Europe for many years.
The yellow sweet and sour flesh blends well into tropical fish dishes and brings additional flavour to grilled meat skewers. In Chinese cuisine, pineapples are used in sweet and sour sauces as well as in chop sueys. To suit the local taste, street vendors offer the fruit both plain or pickled in brine, or with some chilli salt and tamarind paste. Students and workers alike can often be seen crowding around the stands for a taste of this tantalising snack.
As a dessert, pineapple is often served caramelised in dark muscovado sugar, and the fruit peels are cooked and strained to make mousses and jellies. As with the papaya the health benefits of the pineapple are many, including anti-inflammatory properties and high amounts of bromelain and vitamin C when served raw.
Pineapple is so deeply rooted in Mauritian daily life that it now features in sirandanes (local riddles) and funny Creole expressions. Some locals have taken to pineapple peeling as a job and turned it almost into an artform. Indeed, for the inexperienced, peeling a pineapple is a challenging affair. It takes skilled hands on local beaches or in the markets, and this spiky fruit is transformed into a tasty sculpture within minutes.
Learn how to cut a pineapple like a pro from top chef at Constance Belle Mare Plage: how to cut a pineapple
Read more about Mauritian cuisine in our features on street food favourite dahl puri, how Carri poulé is the secret to great curries, cooking with tea, and a guide to Mauritian mithai.