The sky is bright blue on the morning of my meeting with the dynamic Catherine in the highlands of Sainte-Marie to visit an unusual place, often kept secret Surrounded by fields of sugar cane, the Run Spirit aquaculture farm grows a unique, 100% local product that I am about to discover and taste : Spirulina.
Spirulina from the water to the plate: when the invisible becomes visible !
Catherine, a seasoned and passionate consumer, welcomes us in front of the farm, under the verandah. With a straw hat perched on her head, she sets our curious group a little quiz about spirulina and its benefits. In the distance, we hear the sound of the water moving in the old commercial greenhouses which have since been transformed into growing tanks covering an area of 1,500m2.
Most people have heard about Spirulina. This blue-green freshwater micro-algae, mainly grown in Chad, has significant, scientifically proved nutritional properties. “The food of the century” is an excellent food supplement for athletes or for people like me, who want to increase their energy levels, sleep better, boost their mood, improve their concentration. The conditions on Reunion Island are perfect for growing it. For 5 years now, the Run Spirit farm has been selling locals a unique product which is part of an exemplary eco-friendly initiative.
And so begins our tour. As we approach the tanks which are only a few centimetres deep, the Spirulina is not visible to the naked eye. We can only make out the colour of the water, a very bright blue-green. This is the playground of Sylvain, the owner of the farm. He’s the scientist!
In the laboratory, wearing our mob caps, we carefully watch the team transforming it into a thick paste, called “biomass”. A huge green jelly, full of water which, once dried out looks a bit like a soft and compact cake, very smooth to the touch. Once dried and finally transformed into small dry flakes, which are more of a dark grey colour, the Spirulina is then ready to be tasted!
The tasting : Spirulina in all its forms.
At the end of the tour, Catherine gets excited. A small buffet awaits us in front of the farm. While the nutritional benefits of Spirulina are undeniable, its strong salty smell and unusual taste mean that aspiring chefs have to demonstrate imagination and daring to taste it. We are given little savoury shot glasses – delicious.
We also taste Spirulina butter on toast, served with a fresh lemon juice, straight from Catherine’s garden. Now it’s time to chat and share recipes and tips in a homely atmosphere.
I leave convinced and enthusiastic, clutching my little recipe booklet.
Reunion Island Spirulina – I’m going to start using it first thing in the morning !