Bazaar Port Louis - Radio Moris Sega Music Mauritius Ile Maurice

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Vieux 14/04/2006, 18h55
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Date d'inscription: décembre 2003
Localisation: Mauritius
Messages: 258
Bazaar Port Louis

1 L'article ki mon trouver lor Bazaar Port Louis. Premier fois ki mone trouve 1 l'article mentionne Tonton vendre la tisane!

Exotic Mauritius market mirrors its people

By Laurie Goering
Chicago Tribune
Posted April 13 2006

PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS · No matter what ails you, Das Mootoosamy has the answer.

For four generations, he and his family have presided over a heaping mountain of fresh herbs piled in this Indian Ocean city's main market, concocting secret herbal solutions for nearly any medical condition in existence.

Have high cholesterol? Arthritis? Migraines? Cellulite? Depression? A smiling Mootoosamy hands over a book of testimonials from satisfied customers, then disappears behind his vast herbal display, studded with hand-painted signs in French, to begin bagging a treatment.

Rich variety -- and that laid-back smile -- are the trademarks of tropical Mauritius and its steamy Port Louis market, where the island's diverse cultures converge in fragrant and delicious chaos.

This remote island -- best known as home to the now-extinct dodo bird -- was uninhabited when it was first seen by Arab explorers sailing near Madagascar in the 10th century. A millennium later the dodos are gone but the 40-mile-long expanse of towering green mountains, white sand beaches and sugar cane fields east of Africa is home to one of the richest ethnic and culinary mixes on Earth.

Settled in turn by Dutch, French and English colonists, who themselves brought African slaves, Indian indentured workers and Chinese traders to the island, Mauritius has gradually become home to a rich mix of religious, language and ethnic groups. The island has Hindu and Muslim Indian descendents; Creoles, who claim both French and African blood; and Chinese, many of whom have converted to Catholicism from Buddhism over the years. There are 87 religions on the island, and most Mauritians are bilingual or trilingual, able to speak Creole French, English and often Hindi or Chinese as well.

The food reflects the diversity of the people. Dinner in Mauritius might be prawn egg rolls, octopus vindaloo, curried biryani rice, hearts of palm in hollandaise sauce and a pineapple mousse washed down with vanilla tea.

In Mauritius, "you name it, you'll get it," notes Madeleine Philippe, a Mauritian chef who has over the years collected many of the island's best recipes.

Everything you need to cook Mauritian-style is on display at the Port Louis market, much of it relocated just in the past year to a stunning new open-air stone-and-wood building a short walk from the port and from the gates of the city's moped-choked Chinatown.

Laid out along neat cobblestone aisles are heaps of flat yellow squashes, piles of fragrant fresh ginger, huge red grapefruit with their skins artistically split open on top to show the rich flesh inside.

Across an alleyway, in an older section of the market, are the island's famous spices: saffron, star anise, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, fresh vanilla pods, peppercorns of every color, and an even wider variety of powdered curry and tandoori mixes.

Saffron -- introduced to Mauritius, like most of the spices -- is one of the island's big draws with visitors. An ounce goes for just $5 -- a steal for foreign gourmets used to paying much more in Europe or the United States.

The market dates to the mid-1700s, when it was established facing the young French colonial city's Roman Catholic Cathedral. At the end of 1773 it moved to the Place du Theatre, behind the main government house, then again in 1914 to the India Company Garden.

Finally, in 1839, the market reached its present location on Queen Street, just a couple of blocks from the water, and down the street from the city's biggest mosque. Since then its wood-slatted buildings -- designed to let the breeze through -- have suffered a number of fires, the most recent in 1999. The newest section of the market, housing the fruits and vegetables, is now completely rebuilt in an airy, high-roofed style.

Nearly all the island's half-dozen varieties of cucumber -- some long, thin and dark with ridges, others fat and pale green -- are excellent cut in small pieces and cooked with tomato and curry powder, Philippe says. Okra, on the other hand, is great fried with onion, he says, and the magose -- bumpy cucumber -- is nice fried with carrots.

Nearly everything in Mauritian cuisine needs at least a hint of chili. Great heaps of green and red chilies, some large and mild, others tiny and fiery, fill the market. Smiling vendors also screw the top off fragrant homemade pepper sauces to offer passersby a tantalizing whiff.

Over the centuries, the borders between Mauritius' ethnic cuisines -- and its ethnic groups -- have softened, and the result is some remarkable culinary fusion.

Among the traditional favorites on the island are wild boar rougaille, a Creole mix of meat with ginger, onion, garlic, tomato and spices, venison with sugar cane, as well as Peking duck and curried Muslim biryani rice. Creme brulee or bread pudding might be served for dessert alongside lassi, an Indian yogurt drink.

At the market's crammed food section, shoppers pause to sip a cool alouda, a mix of agar, water, milk, rose syrup and spices, and nibble on Indian sweets, fried chili fritters, Chinese noodles, octopus salad, cheese sandwiches, perhaps a samosa or two.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Co. newspaper.
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bazaar, louis, port

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