French Polynesian Diet

The first settlers are believed to have come from Southeast Asia by about 800 AD.  Tahiti like so many isolated oceanic islands,  are physical out of reach of many mainland plants and animals. There were no native animals on Tahiti apart from a few reptile species and some birds. The earliest Tahitian diet consisted of fish and seafood, pork and chicken, tropical fruit and vegetables such as taro, breadfruit and yams.

The first European to arrive was Captain Cook in 1767 who is believed to have introduced cattle to the island.

Missionaries arrived in the islands in late 1700. They did their best to control and “civilize” the natives and by early 1800 they’d secured a strong influence over the Tahitian islands.

French declared Tahiti a French Colony 1880. Obviously, throughout this long period French influences took hold, not only in the cuisine but also in the language, government and culture.

The Chinese influence started as a direct result of the American Civil War. In 1884 in an attempt to ease the worldwide cotton shortage caused by the War, British born William Stewart obtained a permit to import Chinese workers as laborers on his huge cotton plantations in the south of Tahiti, this is how the Asian influence was imported.

Present diet

We can see why French and Asian techniques and influences are strong here in Tahiti. Still today  traditional meals are still cooked in an earth oven known  a Ahima’a, this is where meats and vegetables are wrapped in leaves, placed on a bed of hot stones. The wraps are covered with more leaves and soil, and left to cook for several hours….yum yum!

Major food components are fish, shellfish, chicken, pork,  tropical fruit, breadfruit, taro, cassava,  yams, and rice are staples and frequently used ingredients include lime juice, coconut milk and of course vanilla.

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~ by crr1962 on June 24, 2010.

One Response to “French Polynesian Diet”

  1. interesting

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