Strangely, if you’re looking to impress a Madagascan with your knowledge of local culinary tradition, then the best thing you can do is serve your guest his meal on the floor.
Yes, it is traditional Madagascan culture, as in many African nations, to serve the entire meal all in one go, on a large mat on the floor. Although many Western inspired eateries, particularly in the cities, now prefer to serve their guests at rustic tables, I would go back go basics, and show your guests you know how it is traditionally done.Place setting Madagascan style presents hosts with another time saving tip, in the fact that locals don’t use knives or forks when they sit down to eat. Just a large spoon is all that’s required, and only when necessary.
If you must insist on sitting to the table for your meal, then it’s a good idea to use a cheery yellow tablecloth, to create an amicable atmosphere.
Now when it comes to cuisine, Madagascan culture has been influenced by some of the best. African, Arab and Indonesian people have influenced the culture and cuisine of this fine island, as well as the French for a little je ne sais quoi!
Despite the wealth of influencing nations, dinner in Madagascar is a fairly simple occasion. Locals do not usually bother with thousands of appetisers, starters or pre-drinks, they simply get straight down to businesses with the main meal.
Surprisingly, Madagascan food is not that hot and spicy, although if you do want some spice, be prepared to have your head blown off by the islands, little used, but highly volatile Piri-Piri pepper paste!
Apart from the Piri-Piri, there are no crazy surprises per say in the local food. Main meals tend to consist of a main meat (which could be ostrich or lemur, I’m just saying), chicken or fish, a side dish of vegetables from Madagascar’s luxurious selection of incredible organic produce, and, as always, a large bowl of white rice.
If you need a cold one, the only real beer available is called Three Horses Beer, from Antsirabe, but, as an Afrikaans language guide once told me, if you fancy something a little stronger, you’re in for a treat.
Rum is extremely popular on the island, and visitors can take advantage of the succulent fruit available with cocktails such as rum with lychees, rum and vanilla, rum and ginger, and rum with fresh pineapple.
Finally, for a truly delicious dessert, any Madagascan guest will be more than happy with a large bowl of their freshly picked fruit, sprinkled with a little sugar and a drop of Madagascan vanilla.