Ia Orana, friends! That’s Tahitian for “Hello!”
Grab a frothy beverage and take a seat to go on a delicious adventure with me. Here be a 5-part series about cuisine all around the world, from the purple mountains majesties of the U.S. to the crystal blue coasts of Tahiti. Ready to drool? Let’s get started!
Our first entry is Tahiti. Tahiti was born in 500 BC by early seafaring settlers who migrated from Southeast Asia. Throughout the centuries, Tahiti would undergo several transformations until finally becoming an autonomous nation under the French Republic. Today Tahiti and Her Islands are a part of French Polynesia in the South Pacific.
It’s through this diverse transformation throughout the ages that Tahiti developed a unique cuisine heavily influenced by their Southeast Asian, South Pacific, and French ancestors.
Poisson Cru or “E’ia Ota”
Fresh red fish… the sweet creaminess of coconut… and the sour tang of lime. Poisson cru, French for “raw fish”, is otherwise known in Tahitian as E’ia Ota (ee-ah oh-tah). It is Tahiti’s national dish and a delectable must-have, perfect for a sunset cool-down on the beach. Served in a coconut or clam shell, poisson cru combines slices of fresh ahi tuna marinated in lime juice, coconut milk, cucumber, and tomato with green onion for garnish. Great additions include bell pepper, onion, and garlic to give it that savory oomph. I also recommend some sugar to cut the acidity, but this tangy treasure is absolutely worth a try.
Here is our fav recipe. Most of the ingredients you can get at your local grocery store.
Pouletfafa is chicken wrapped in fafa leaves and traditionally cooked in an ahima’a. What is an ahima’a? Similar to the Hawaiian luau, it’s a pit barbecue which has been dug into the ground and tempered with volcanic stones. Once the stones are heated, wood and coconut husks are placed over it. Food is then wrapped in leaves and cooked on the hot stones.
Fafa, otherwise known as Polynesian spinach, is the leaf of the taro plant. Taro is a starchy root plant fairly similar in texture to a potato, but sweeter when cooked (though not as sweet as a sweet potato… or as orange). Fafa is relatively hard to find so most of us here in America have to make due with spinach, which is part of the reason why it is a must-have food in Tahiti— besides the fact that it’s finger-licking good.
Ah, breadfruit — a starchy companion that is more versatile than a Kitchen-Aid. Traditionally served as a side dish, uru — Tahitian breadfruit — can be boiled, grilled, baked or served raw. It comes from the sacred uru tree, which is famous for its many uses. The leaves and fruit are completely edible, while its wood can be used to build canoes. Breadfruit itself is used as a replacement for potatoes or… you know… bread. It is typically put whole on a grill until each side blackens, during which the inside turns soft, creamy and slightly sweet.
Imagine: Arriving via boat to the Tahitian island of Taha’a, filled with palm and uru trees, white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. You step off the boat and immediately notice a sweet aroma that permeates the air. That smell is the Taha’a vanilla plant! Vanilla is precious in Tahiti, where locals can eat it fresh from the plant. Po’e in particular is a delicious fruit pudding made of papaya, mango, and banana and topped with coconut cream with a subtle hint of vanilla. It is known for being sweet and starchy.
Wake up and step out of your overwater bungalow to coast down Papeete’s waterfront, where the Les Roulottes await with freshly brewed coffee as you grab the island’s famous Firi Firi donuts, still warm from the oven as they melt on your tongue. Anyone who has drank a few too many at a brewery, especially in Minneapolis, can attest to the lifesaver that is Food Trucks. Les Roulottes are essentially food trucks or wagons parked along Papeete’s shore that serve some of Tahiti’s most mouthwatering meals.
One of the island’s most popular foods is Firi Firi, which are donuts made with coconut milk and baked in fun figure 8s. They are best with a steaming cup of vanilla coffee and a beachfront view.
Here is my personal favorite recipe.
And that’s 5! But really, there are so many more . Tahitian and Polynesian cuisine holds some of the most unique dishes in the world. Because of the location, many ingredients can’t be found in the States, making it impossible to replicate unless you are in French Polynesia… leaving you with once-in-a-lifetime memories your tastebuds will thank you for.
So now I turn it back to you.
Have you eaten Tahitian cuisine? If so, what was it and what’d you think? And if not, what is a unique meal you’ve had from another culture?
My oven is hot. My vegetable are cut. I invite you to join me in surrounding yourself with Tahitian culture this week as we dine on delectable recipes… even if we have to make some unfortunate substitutions in the process.
Ready for bliss?
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Wishing you bliss,
—Lindsey, the Sun Bliss Luxury Blogger
Ia Orana! My name is Lindsey and I am a luxury travel specialist from Minnesota.
I have trudged through blinding white winters, trekked through state fairs during horrid humidity, and come out the other end looking for a more blissful day in the sun. My agency is Sun Bliss Travel, which uses its industry connections and specialized knowledge to design magical luxury vacations for travelers who want unforgettable VIP experiences.
But I am not just an agent or a (woman-led) small business owner — I’m an avid traveler myself who loves sunsets, cats, coffee and cooking. I live in Minnesota with my adorable fiance and together we’ve built a life full of love, fun and bliss.