You eat very well in the Marquesas Islands. Wild pig and goat, breadfruit, manioc, taro, Marquesan poisson cru… During your vacation in The Islands of Tahiti, make sure you try the local cuisine, it’s delicious. Enjoy your meal, or”Kaikai meitai” as they say in the Marquesas Islands.

A vacation in French Polynesia is an immersion in a different culture and part of that culture is the cuisine. The Marquesas Islands have their own specialities and several restaurants in the islands of Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou and Ua Hiva have typical local dishes on their menu. The chef will be delighted to explain the recipes and suggest dishes for you to try. The combination of French gastronomic excellence and exotic local ingredients, such as pineapple, vanilla and coconut milk, provides a veritable treat for your taste buds. So sit down, tuck in your napkin and “Kaikai meitai“.

Marquesan cooking

There is a great variety of dishes in the Marquesas Islands, but here are two of the most popular. The first is ‘ika mito. It’s poisson cru, but prepared in a different way. Cut the fish into cubes and soak it in salt water and garlic for about an hour. Drain the water and pour coconut milk over the fish.

The second dish is kaaku which is based on ‘uru, the fruit of the breadfruit tree. Cook the ‘uru on a wood fire. When the skin is well blackened, peel it off and take out the stone.

Then comes the hard part. Place the warm ‘uru in an ‘umete (wooden bowl) and using a penu (pestle) with a little water, pound it until you obtain a homogenous paste. Serve it with fresh coconut milk.

The ‘ahima’a, traditional Polynesian earth oven, is called a humu kaikai in Marquesan. The oven is a hole in the ground partly filled with large volcanic stones, which are heated by a wood fire until red hot. The food is wrapped in banana leaves and placed on the stones and a lid is put on the oven. Wild pig, veal and root vegetables are steamed for a few hours until perfectly cooked, succulent and very tasty.

Where to enjoy the local cuisine

Restaurants, food trucks, snack bars, waterside picnics…there are many ways to enjoy your meal in The Islands of Tahiti. And a varied cuisine with influences from all over the world, means that your taste buds are in for a treat.

Fruit tasting with a Nuku Hiva resident © Grégoire Le Bacon
Fruit tasting with a Nuku Hiva resident © Grégoire Le Bacon

If you’re in a hurry at lunchtime, go to a food truck and eat a local dish, such as poulet fafa (chicken with spinach and coconut milk). If you want to take things easy, have a picnic on a motu at the water’s edge and relax. And if you’re in Nuku Hiva and want to try something different, go to a Polynesian restaurant and order a traditional dish of goat cooked in coconut milk.

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