Mangos, pineapples, lychees...
The flavours of tropical fruitScroll
The mango tree was introduced to Reunion Island in 1770 by Deguiné de La Bérangerie. It is cultivated, and also grows in Creole gardens, for its fruit and the shade it creates. It is definitely the most common tropical fruit tree in Reunion Island.
There are many varieties, appreciated differently:
The "Wild Mango" is produced by trees grown from seedlings, which sometimes grow of their own accord outside orchards. It is small with a fibrous, slightly tart flesh. It is most often eaten before it is fully ripe, chopped in small seasoned pieces in “rougail”.
The "Carrot Mango" has a longer, asymmetrical and slightly flat shape. It is most appreciated green, in “rougail”, or cut in pieces with salt and hot pepper. It is also eaten when ripe despite the flesh around the stone being very fibrous.
The "Graft Mango", the favourite in Reunion, is always produced from a graft. The fruit is sub-spherical with a delicate, fragrant flesh and very short fibres. This "graft" name applies to several varieties which are difficult to tell apart. But other are easily distinguishable for connoisseurs: “José mango”, “Auguste mango”, “Emile mango”, “Lucie mango”.
The "American Mango", the most recently introduced. The American varieties produce the biggest fruit.
The beneficial properties of the mango: mango is an excellent source of vitamin A and C, potassium and copper. It treats lazy bowel syndrome, soothes sore throats and gum and mouth infections.
The island's most emblematic fruit, the Reunion Island's “Victoria pineapple” received Red Label accreditation in 2005, making it one of France's best pineapples. This delectable yellow fruit with a tropical fragrance has delicious, tender flesh. It can be enjoyed as a dessert (sorbets, cake, fruit salad, etc.), in meat or fish caris, in samosas, in punch, etc.
The French word for pineapple, "ananas" is derived from "nana" which means fragrant in the language spoken by the Guaranis Indians, indigenous to Paraguay. The Spanish named it "fruit pina" because it looks like a pine cone. The English language retained this reference and named the fruit "pineapple".
A monocotyledon plant, the "ananas comosus" belongs to the bromeliaceae family.
The virtues of the pineapple:
- Improves blood circulation.
- Rich in cellulose, it regulates bowel action.
- Digestive: The proteolytic enzymes in pineapple, such as bromelain, digest protein. They are excellent agents for splitting the protein molecules in meat and starch in carbohydrates which ferment and cause digestive problems such as gas, bloating, heavy stomach pain, etc.
- Anti-inflammatory: Many physicists and chiropractors confirm that the bromelain in pineapple is excellent for relieving tendinitis, muscle pain and tissue inflammation caused by sport.
In December 2012, Reunion lychees received the prestigious Red Label, a gauge of the high quality of Reunion production: the sweetest, juiciest and most fragrant lychees. The lychee is a majestic tree which can reach 20 metres high, forming a voluminous, usually round, crown. It has been cultivated in China for over 4,000 years. It was introduced to Reunion in 1764 by Joseph François Charpentier de Cossigny de Palma. On the island it is called "letchi".
Lychee orchards cover approximately 500 hectares of Reunion Island, and produce 8,000 tonnes of fruit. Lychee flowers are pollinated by bees: Unicolor Apis mellifera or Western honey bee (lychee honey production). A popular treat for the Reunion population, the fruit reaches maturity in December and decorates festive tables for Christmas and New Year.