Reunion, land of flavors

Beaches protected by a coral reef, peaks, cirques and ramparts Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, scuba diving spots and breathtaking hikes, Reunion Island no longer has to prove its richness or its diversity. But, from sugar cane to chocolate, passing through red palm kernels and vanilla, the island is also a huge pantry of fruits, spices and flavors. This rural Reunion is increasingly open to travelers who want to spice up their discovery of the island. Between a climb to the Piton des Neiges and a bath in the lagoon of Trou d’Eau, meeting with three farmers from Reunion, creators of exceptional flavors.

In Sainte-Anne, before going up to the property of Philippe Morel, the church is so spectacular that it requires you to stop. It dates from the mid-nineteenthe century, but it is the Gaudi-like decorations – slender and very richly sculpted, the facade is reminiscent of the Sagrada Familia – from the 1920s that make it so charming.

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On the left side, all stucco in pastel colors, the pretty Sainte-Thérèse chapel served as the setting for the wedding scene of Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Deneuve in The Mississippi Mermaid by François Truffaut, filmed on the island at the end of 1968. After the village, the road is initially walled in with sugar cane, whose fields stretch as far as the eye can see. Sometimes the cane gives way to lower patches, covered in wiry, serrated leaves that hide ripening pineapples. The stage is set.

“I am a Yab chouchou, from Salazie, where they grow chouchou, this fleshy vegetable typical of Reunion” – Philippe Morel, farmer in Saint-Anne

Small straw fascinator and chef’s apron embroidered with the slogan “The long-lasting taste there at M. Morel”, Philippe Morel is what we call a character. The farmer welcomes us for a lunch from the field to the plate in his racket, a lair of cinder blocks and sheet metal, blackened by the fire that burns constantly in the hearth. The smoke escapes through an opening that lets in the sun. Sausages are smoked on the way. “I am a Yab, a descendant of the little devils of the Hauts – the interior of Reunion, the reliefs, as opposed to the Bas, the coast and its plains – which were called so because they were not made baptize and did not go to church. »

Philippe Morel, in his sugar cane field, in Saint-Anne, Reunion.

He tosses the black pig sausage curry while talking: “There are three kinds of Yab: the redhead, who lives near volcanoes; the yellow paws, which cultivates turmeric; and finally the Yab chouchou, like me, which comes from Salazie, where the chouchou is grown, this fleshy vegetable typical of Reunion. » These identities, which retain a certain strength here, say it well: Reunion has a long tradition as a nurturing island.

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