Goyavier Fever

In Réunion it seems each month brings with it a new tropical fruit to discover. Now that it’s May, goyavier is the fruit of the month. I had never tried or even had heard of this delicious red fruit before I came to Reunion. I knew of guava but not goyavier. In previous months here I had goyavier juice but only recently did I get to try the fresh fruit and oh my god I’m in love. I think I could live on lychees and goyavier,

So a week ago, my landlord organized a goodbye Creole picnic for us. We drove to the Foret de Bebour since I had never been there. We brought baskets full of picnic supplies that filled up the trunk of our tiny French car like true Creoles- blankets, folding chairs, marmites full of rice and caris, rougails, quiches, salad, and lots of rhum arrange, wine, and beer, and buckets for goyavier. Instead of taking the Plaines, we took a bunch of windy side roads to discover even more of Reunion. When we arrived in the forest, our first stop was to pick goyavier. We paid 10€ for a giant bucket to pick as many goyaviers as we could. Dennis and I left the group to go search for an untouched area with big, juicy, ripe red and purple fruits. One goyavier in the bucket, one in my mouth. And so it went like this for over an hour until both my belly and the bucket were full. Then we transferred the goyaviers into our own buckets and found a nice place in the forest to sit and have our elaborate Creole picnic.

When we got home, I started looking up recipes to deal with the almost 10 kilos of goyavier! For the next four days I was busy mixing goyaviers and straining the seeds to make all sorts of delicious things before the fruits rotted. Fresh goyavier do not last long, only a few days at the most. It’s so nice though to have so much fresh produce here. In the US fruits last much longer because they are full of nasty preservatives and pesticides. I succeeded to use all the goyavier and made a bunch of goyavier mousses, sorbets, and rum of course. The kitchen was a mess as there was goyavier juice everywhere! Our other friends from the picnic made a bunch of sauces with the goyavier and we all shared our recipes and dishes. Surprisingly I’m not sick of goyavier yet. I know I must savour them as much as possible since soon the season will be over and it will be another fruit’s time to shine.

Vocabulary

landlord – propriétaire
baskets – paniers
trunk – coffre
windy – sinueuse
to pick – cueillir

bucket – seau
looking up – chercher
to strain – prendre du jus
to rot – pourrir
a bunch of – bcp de

dishes – les plats

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The Millionaires’ Salad

The day before New Years Eve, my landlord knocked on my door in the morning to ask if I wanted to go on a mission to buy hearts of palms with him in St Philippe. The goal was to make a large salad for a New Year’s party.  I figured why not. So we hopped in our car in St. Leu and headed south. 

Our first stop was by a waterfall in Langevin where we took a quick swim in the frigid water. On the way out we stopped at a lychee stand where I bought a kilo to snack on during the ride.  We asked the lychee vendor where we can find palm trees and he agreed that St Philippe was the spot. 

At every road stand we passed I was on the lookout for palm trees for sale but I only saw lychees. When we got to St Philippe, there was still no sign of any Palm trees at the expected places. However I did see a small sign that said « Red and white palmistes for sale, 1€ », which seemed suspiciously low but we knocked on the gate. 

The man was super friendly and it turns out he was a gardener and selling baby plants of the red and white palms for 1€ each. He showed me the vanilla he was growing since I never saw it on the vine before and we all had a good laugh.  Then we left with some palms plants in hand, of course.  However we still had not completed our mission. 

We continued through the wild south, passed the grand brûlée and stopped at the Notre Dame de Lave in St Rose to take some photos. Then we decided to stop for another swim at Bassin Bleu in St Anne.  Almost all the lychees were gone at this point and we still had not found any palm trees. 

Our last hope to complete our mission was to take the Plaines des Palmistes. Finally we found a guy selling some Palm trees! So we bought four. Mission completed! They cost an arm and a leg, but well worth it. I guess that’s why it’s also called the millionaire’s salad- even if you can find them, it’s expensive! Then we went home with the trees but unfortunately no lychees. 

We cut up the trees to get to the heart. Then we shredded the hearts to make the hearts of palm salad and used the leftovers for a cari. A hearts of palm salad is pretty wasteful, since it took four trees to make a large salad for twelve. But it was delicious.  It was great start to the new year and quite an adventure around the island.  

Vocabulary

landlord – propriétaire
hearts of palms – coeur de palmiste
goal – but
I figured – j’ai pensé
to hop – sauter

ride – tour
on the lookout – à l’affût
However – cependant
cost an arm and a leg – couter les yeux de la tête
well worth it – vaut la peine

to shred – ràper
the leftovers – les reste

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Getting High in Reunion

Since arriving in Réunion, my goal has been to see the Island from above. But I didn’t want to see this green gem from a plane, I wanted to see her in free fall and under my own parachute! I have been a licensed skydiver for over three years now and before I left the U.S. I discovered there is a skydiving club called Paraclub de Bourbon at Pierrefond Airport in St. Pierre. So I brought my parachute and other skydiving equipment with me on the long flights from San Francisco to St Denis.

However when I first arrived I was disappointed to learn the club was closed for a few weeks due to aircraft maintenance. Then when I returned when it was opened again, it was too windy or too cloudy. It took over two months before I finally had the chance to skydive in Réunion. By this time I was itching to get in the sky and get my adrenaline fix as skydiving is my addiction of choice.  Finally one beautiful December morning I drove to Pierrefond very early in the morning. The weather was good and the prop of the plane was turning, so I put on my gear and took a seat in the Pilatus Porter.  

From the plane I was able to see into Cilaos, past St Pierre to the south and Etang Salé to the north. It was a beautiful view! When we reached 13,000 ft (or about 4,000 m) I jumped out of the plane with my boyfriend.  Finally I got to make a skydive over Réunion!  We held hands and did some flips above the island before it was time to separate and pull our parachutes.  I was able to take in the beauty of the island in free fall and then under my own parachute, which I landed safely onto the small landing area next to the hangar at the airport. 

Finally, I got high in Réunion and it was amazing!  

Vocabulary

free fall – chute libre
however – par contre
due to – à cause de
windy – venteux
itching to – impatient de

hold hands – se tenir les mains
take in – apprecier

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