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Madagascar.

Food.

Meals in Madagascar are invariably based around rice. Rice with this.........rice with that. The national dish is called Ramazava and is made from beef (zebu) and mixed greens sauteed with ginger tomato and onion. We have eaten it and it comes highly recommended. Very filling after a hard days walking. Malagasy food is not very spicy, as in hot and spicy, although they do have a highly charged pepper paste called Sakay or Piri-Piri which should carry a health warning because it is so hot! The first time we tried it at least 3 of us nearly had a heart attack, all while our Malagasy guides were having a good giggle at our sufferings. We tried it again on our second trip, this time adding it in tiny quantities to soup and it was delicious. The cuisine is predominately French in style and some restaurants along the coastal areas provide simply stunning sea food dishes. The Bamboo Club in Ifaty is a particular favourite of ours. We stayed there for the eclipse in 2001 and again in 2004 and it says a lot for the place that your stay there is centred around the meals! There was an air of expectation each day while we waited to see what was on the menu. It is in the Bamboo Club that I ate one of the most stunning fish dishes I have ever had the pleasure to come across. It was a large reef fish which they called a Kapitan or Capitan fish (I do have a photograph of it somewhere and will post it later). The fish just melted in your mouth and was cooked in a coconut sauce.  What I really should say here is that you will not starve in Madagascar. As far as I can make out they appear to eat way more food than I normally do. The big killer is the large meal in the middle of the day. I found that all it did was slow everyone down for the afternoon, especially in the heat. The large breakfast and the evening meal is more than enough to keep you going in the tropical heat with a light snack in the middle of the day as a filler. Maybe it's just that being from a cool climate like Ireland I am not used to eating at mid day in the heat.

Vegetables in Madagascar are stunning. They are mainly all organically grown. Apples look ugly but taste great, oranges taste like they have never tasted before and the bananas are a meal in themselves. You can travel around Madagascar for 3 weeks and have a different crepe for dessert each day. Honestly. We did!

There is only one beer widely available in Madagascar and that is Three Horses Beer which is brewed in Antsirabe. Suffice to say that we liked it so much that in 2004 we actually managed to pay the brewery a visit and were pleasantly surprised at the modern set up there. They even recycle all the bottles and plastic crates themselves. Damaged crates are ground down and reformed with special machinery. Well worth a visit. The next most popular drink is rum and my god do they know how to make rum. Some of it should be investigated by NASA as a fuel for the shuttle it has such a kick. There is rum with lychees, rum with vanilla (particularly nice with a real vanilla pod), rum with ginger, rum with pineapple. In fact rum with anything, except rice. From what I can gather the music scene in Madagascar is fueled by rum also. The locals would turn up at night around our campfire with their drums and Tsaboky's (a small handmade guitar with an amazing sound). They would sit around in a shy fashion playing their instruments with their backs turned to us in some cases. As soon as the rum was passed around then the singing and dancing began and would go on until the early hours of the morning.

Click on the link marked photos above left for some of our images of Malagasy food.