French Polynesia benefits from optimum climatic conditions and so is a real Garden of Eden where exuberance and abundance go hand in hand. In this country that is gorged with sunshine, farmers grow a huge variety of fruits, spices and vegetables with evocative names reminding us of faraway places. These exotic treasures are much appreciated by consumers because they combine aromatic qualities with nutritional benefits, giving great pleasure to the body and the taste buds.
The legendary breadfruit plant or uru, the coconut, the dozens of varieties of bananas of which one is the incomparable orange plantain banana or fe'i, the various root vegetables such as the taro, the tarua, the ufi or even the 'umara make up the basis of island cuisine. Papayas, mangos, pineapples, watermelon, grapefruit, limes with a pod of vanilla are used to prepare tasty deserts.
Fish from the lagoon or from the ocean, ranging from perch, the dolphinfish (mahi mahi) through to the parrot fish in the Tuamotu islands in particular, are also on the menu for typical Polynesian dishes. They are often eaten raw, sometimes marinated in lime juice and coconut milk as in the famous recipe for raw fish à la Tahitienne' that is found all over the globe.
All these tropical foods are found in traditional ahima'a or Polynesian ovens where fruits, vegetables, suckling pigs, Tahitian chicken fafa (local spinach) and other delicacies such as po'e or local fruit pastilles cook through. Everything is sprinkled with fresh coconut oil and deliciously creamy. Numerous tourist services also let you discover the flavours of the islands on picnics organised on beaches or on a motu (islet), and tasted while dangling your feet in water. These outings are an opportunity to taste freshly caught fish, such as the tasty ume, the Long Nose Emperor fish of the lagoons and the little jacks.