December on our little island brims with exhilaration; it has the power to stir senses, bring people together and trigger euphoric emotions. Mauritians—all 1.3 million of them—no matter their culture or creed, are connected by their mutual love for the magic of this season. There’s no better time of the year to discover the idiosyncrasies of the local culture than when the street lights change colors, sleepy towns transform into vibrant spaces and exotic flavors waft through the toasty warm air. Dive deep into Mauritius’ rich history through the lens of Jeeva, Jeff, Aldo, Magalie and Melanie.
Jeeva, Waitress at Veranda Pointe aux Biches
Jeeva, who has spent most of her life exceeding guest expectations in various hotels, loves nothing more than to kick off the festivities with the resort’s visitors. She begins by creating unforgettable memories for them with tropical cocktails, before turning her attention to her own household, where gifts abound. But New Year’s Eve is when she truly makes merry, lighting up her garden with a dazzling fireworks display that make her nieces, nephews and neighbours “Ooh!” and “Aah!” For Jeeva, what truly makes this season magical are the memories she shares with her family; memories that linger long after the Christmas tree is taken down.
On the Menu:
Plat au Pain – Christmas Lunch is a feast of a typical Mauritian meal composed of grilled meat, a beetroot or pattypan squash salad, and the meal’s protagonist, pain maison (a round rustic bread baked to golden perfection.)
Carri Endan – Lamb liver cooked in a spicy curry is served with South-Indian rasam.
Jeff, Works with the Entertainment Team at Veranda Grand Baie
Jeff, whose name is synonymous with all things fun at Veranda Grand Baie, takes it upon himself to charm the hotel’s nightlife revelers on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Guests are taken for a spin into Grand Baie—the epicenter of Mauritian nightlife—and its stretch of vibrant bars. December 26th is spent in the quaint and charming village of Cap Malheureux with his siblings and their children, each member of the family donning a Santa hat. While the spirited children put on a show for the adults, Jeff enjoys tracing back the origins of Santa Claus and Christmas for the younger ones. They ring in the new year by setting off fireworks.
On the menu:
Gadjacks – Mauritian deep-fried finger food are indescribably delicious: gato piments (chilli cakes), samoussas (potato-filled pastries), arouille (fried taro), chana puris (dough balls stuffed with lentils), best served with spicy chutney and washed down with a rum and coke or a fresh Phoenix beer.
Aldo, Works at Veranda Paul & Virginie’s Boat House
For Aldo, Christmas isn’t quite Merry without uninterrupted music; the year’s top hits thump in the background, elevating the already-electrifying ambiance. A resident of Grande Riviere Nord Ouest, which bristles with festivities as the new year inches closer, Aldo takes full advantage of his ideal setting to check out his neighbours’ extravagant light displays, dance to the groovy music resounding in the streets and revel in his effervescent neighbourhood. Friends gather round, sharing food, drinks and laughs. The sense of community has never been stronger.
On the menu:
Salmi – The local—and more piquant—version of a French Coq au Vin, salmi is essentially meat (in Aldo’s case, turkey) stewed with red wine, enjoyed with rice and a cucumber watercress salad.
Magalie, Personal Assistant to the Sales and Marketing Department at the Head Office
Magalie begins the festivities with what Mauritians fondly call a grand nettoyage, which involves making sure that the house is nothing less than sparkling clean. The family heads out to the bustling village of Goodlands, where the children are charmed by the brilliant display of lights. At night, Christmas Mass with the family is a must. Gift-swapping, a beautifully-lit Christmas tree and karaoke complete the celebrations.
On the menu:
Porc rôti au miel – Honey-glazed pork, served with pumpkin or cauliflower gratin and the unsung hero to the meal—a chilled glass of Coca Cola.
Gadjacks – Magalie opts for onion rings and poisson frit, deep-fried local fish drizzled with zesty lemon juice, and piment farci au tamarin (chilli stuffed with sweet tamarind to balance out the flavors).
Melanie, Housekeeping Supervisor at Veranda Palmar Beach
Melanie’s Christmas Eve and Day revolve around her young son, who eagerly awaits Santa’s presents (if he hasn’t been a naughty boy.) Lunch follows, where members of the family gather to exchange thoughtful gifts. Her new year customarily begins on a pious note; she recites prayers for peace and happiness, opting for a purely vegetarian meal on the day. But they more than make up for it the next day, with generous portions of seafood and meat.
On the menu:
Gadjacks – Melanie indulges in deep-fried samoussas and croquettes de poulet (chicken fried in batter), complete with beers and wine.
Goat or fish curry – Both filled with chilli and spice, and packed with extraordinary flavors.
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