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Food & drink

Malagasy Food Vanilla

Madagascar has had a lot of culinary influences. The mix of African, Arab and Indonesian peoples that make up the country have created a cuisine that is truly unique. The culinary influence of the French is still felt to this day, as are some of the additional plants introduced by them, including vanilla, coffee, cloves and sugar cane. Not just have they all brought their own styles of cooking and distinctive dishes, the different cultural forces have also introduced a number of different types of plants and animals. Current day cuisine is generally quite flavoursome, prepared in a simple manner without too much spice. The main course will usually consist of one main dish of meat, poultry or fish, as well as side dishes of vegetables and a bowl of rice, which will accompany almost every meal. Madagascar has some typical dishes, like e.g. Ravitoto (crushed manioc leaves with usually pork meat) or Romazava (broth with vegetable, sometimes with bits of meat (beef or chicken): Meat in Madagascar is generally much less fatty than western countries. The only drink traditionally served with meals is ranonapango, a burned-rice drink. Desserts are often just some of the delicious local fruits, normally with some sugar sprinkled on top, and then flavoured with vanilla.

Along the roads you'll see thousands of these stalls where the locals buy their groceries.

However, you should be careful about where you eat. Check to see that the establishment is clean and observes some hygiene measures. A steady stream of customers is also often agood sign.

Madagascar has now two companies who produce soft drinks: Star, who's producing Coca Cola, Fanta and Sprite under licence, but also their own brands like "Bonbon anglais", Passion and "Grenadine" lemonade, then Tonic and Crystal (Crystal is sparkling mineral water)all in glas bottles (1 litre and 33cl) with a deposit on it. Lately, they've brought out Coke, Fanta and Sprite also in plastic bottles. Tiko produces Tiko Cola, Orange, Lemon and Mint lemonade in 1,5 litre and 50cl plastic bottles. They also produce fruitjuices in tetra pack (orange, pineapple, passion fruit, apple) and dairy products. Star produces the only locally made beer, in two brand names: Queens and THB (Three horses beer), in 58cl bottles and
the THB now also in 33cl cans. There are several brandnames of bottled water: Olympiko, Eau Vive, La Source, Sainto, in 75cl or 1,5litre plastic bottles. All the drinks produced by Star can be found nearly anywhere, the same with Tiko. In some bars and hotels, you can get import beer, and the hotels Tana Plaza and Hotel de France in Tana brew their own beer. Please be careful with the homemade fruitjuices ("jus naturel") that you can get in some restaurants, as there is often water added, which is mostly tap water. Icecubes in drinks are sometimes made also with tap water, so you should ask wether the water has been treated, to be on the safe side, or avoid it. Madagascar produces its own wine, in the area around Fianarantsoa and Ambalavao. Try the "Gris" (something between "rosé" and white wine), there are several producers.