French Polynesia boasts numerous culinary specialities and here’s a list of some of the most delicious. Trying the local cuisine is the best way to get a real taste of The Islands of Tahiti.
The emblematic dish of The Islands of Tahiti is poisson cru au lait de coco. You’ll find it on almost every menu in the hotels, restaurants, foodtrucks and snack bars. Raw tuna fish is marinated in coconut milk with a zest of lime and served with fresh raw vegetables. Light but filling, poisson cru is ideal as a starter, main meal, snack or picnic lunch.
Chevrettes are freshwater prawns. Served as a starter, in coconut milk perfumed with vanilla, or as a main course, in a coconut milk and curry sauce, they are delicious, succulent and light.
The traditional poynesian earth oven is called an ahima’a in Tahitian and is now reserved mainly for festive occasions and family meals. The ma’a Tahiti (Tahitian meal) served in most homes on Sundays, is often cooked in an ahima’a. Fish, pork, taro, fe’i bananas and ‘uru (breadfruit) are wrapped in banana leaves and slowly steamed on red-hot stones until succulent and ready to eat. If you get the chance, don’t hesitate to try it. Tama’a maitai!
‘Uru is the fruit of the breadfruit tree and is a main ingredient of Tahitian meals. Fried, boiled, roasted or cooked in an earth oven, it takes the place of potatoes or bread in western cuisine. It is especially delicious when cooked on an open fire until the outer skin is blackened. ‘Uru can even be eaten cold with corned beef, pâté or if you’re feeling decadent, with foie gras!
Fafaru is a traditional dish loved by Polynesians that visitors usually turn their nose up at. Raw tuna or marlin is marinated in sea water that has been fermented for several days using the heads of freshwater prawns. The result is a succulent, though highly pungent dish, served with miti hue (fermented coconut milk). If you can get over the truly off-putting smell, fafaru really is delicious!
The favorite dessert of Tahitians, po’e, is a sweet, jelly-like dish made from manioc, banana, pumpkin or papaya. The fruit is mashed into a pulp, mixed with starch and cooked in an oven or an earth oven. Served with fresh coconut milk, it is a delicious way to end any meal.
No self-respecting Tahitian would serve breakfast without firi firi. Made from coconut flavored flour, firi firi is a kind of donut shaped in a figure 8. Perfect for dunking in your early morning coffee.
Pua’a rôti is a sweetened roast pork dish that Tahitians enjoy as part of their brunch on Sundays. You can buy it in markets and at roadside stands all over The Islands of Tahiti on Sunday mornings.