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Eating Madagascar!

Chef Caro goes to the tropics and finds enough vanilla and seafood to pop a monkey.

by: Caro de Waal: Food24 | 26 Aug 2009

I’ve just got back from ten days in Madagascar.

It was hot, there were palm trees and we ate prawns and crayfish the size of my arm. Hate me yet?

I thought you might like a little injection of summer amidst all the chilliness, to dream away those dark and cantankerous clouds that welcomed me home.

We went north to Nosy Be which is a picture postcard island, all humid with coconuts and the faint smell of vanilla. The smiling locals all speak French and there is a feeling of happy slowness that forces you to breathe out and relax. It also helps when you drink extraordinarily strong rum cocktails.

The first couple of days were a belly flop on the sand getting burnt, eating, exploring the island and snoozing in the sun.

I found great bunches of fat, wet vanilla pods at the local market which were laugh-out-loud cheap… try R40 for 50! I will split some and put them in jars with sugar. It infuses over a week or two, and is wonderful to sprinkle over French toast and pancakes or try a little in your yoghurt. I‘ll make some lovely vanilla custard or ice-cream to go with the hot malva pudding I am craving, or perhaps a cheeky little crème brulee .

We ate what we caught as we chugged around the islands, and the food was simple but wonderful, a barrage of prawns, crab, calamari and fish. Saffy the cook did it all over campfire and we had real coconut milk, plucked from the trees and made by grating the flesh and draining it though muslin.

Huge bright orange paw-paws and sweet pineapples were our dessert. Not forgetting the green-skinned bananas which were great fried in sugar and rum.

We had ‘sauce tamate’ and ‘hot like fire’ chilli, and stupidly didn’t heed the giggled warnings by our guide Henri. At least one of us blew off our heads each meal, by adding a tiny bit too much of the nuclear red sauce.

All this rustic deliciousness was washed down with quarts of 3-horse beer which the girls sweetened with pineapple lemonade and sunset g & t’s.

Paradise. Do you want to pack your bags?

Check out my blog for ‘Eating Madagscar'!

- None


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