The Kreol Festival is a great occasion to sample local food. It is also a good place to buy seedlings of local plants and produce from farmers. That's why on Friday last week, we set off for the Agricultural Show at Grande Anse with the intention of buying plants for the Heritage Garden at Roche Caiman, and sampling as much local food as we could lay our hands on.
The show was vibrant and full of choice, despite the drizzle that fell for most of the day. There was plenty of local produce - including aubergines, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, chillies, bananas, pineapples, cucumber, carrots and tomatoes. We made our way around the different stalls, admiring plants, making purchases and sampling the variety of cuisine available.
At our first stop, we had a taste of the flat Cassava (Mayok) bread "Galet", popularly eaten by dipping it in tea.
Cassava is one of the "big foods" (Gro Manze), and features heavily in local food. Apart from bread, it's used to make the "Ladob" dessert, cake and chips. Cassava is a good source of carbohydrates, and once you've eaten it you will be full on it for awhile.
It's also well loved elsewhere on the African continent and is used in a variety of ways, with some countries promoting it as the key to food security because it's very drought tolerant, and does well even in poor soils. Worldwide, it's the third largest source of carbohydrates. Cassava also had medicinal value in Creole culture - a poultice made from the powder of the roots was applied to wounds and skin disorders to aid healing.
Coconut water was our refreshing drink of choice. It was served to us fresh from the young fruits. Coconut water has recently become popular as a sports drink to the extent that it's called "Mother Nature's own sports drink".
"The water is good for keeping one hydrated," Robin Hanson our Green Health Coordinator told us.
Coconut water has natural electrolytes which are a fantastic rehydrating formula and therefore useful as a great exercise thirst quencher, bedside drink when you have been suffering from a dehydrating illness and also as a post-hangover drink. In fact coconut water has been used as an IV drip fluid effectively at times where IV fluid has not been available!
The water is also rich in potassium and magnesium, and contains a considerable amount of vitamin B which aids in strengthening the muscles, delaying fatigue and maintaining normal heart function, reports Forbes Magazine.
However, coconut water's lower sodium content fails those people who engage in strenuous exercise that produces a lot of sweating as coconut water alone can't replace that lost sodium.
The coconut is often referred to as the tree of life. This is because the palm can be used in countless ways - the leaves for roofing and for decorative items, fibre for ropes, and the oil and milk for cooking, and in soaps and cosmetics. People have also gone "coco-nuts" by adding coconut milk to smoothies.