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New Caledonia is a country of both land and sea, populated by numerous different communities. So you can taste varied and exotic cuisine. The “national” Kanak dish is the bougna (just before the rice, essential at every meal!). It is a judicious mixture of meat, chicken or fish accompanied with yam, taro or poingo (cooking) bananas and dipped in coconut milk. All this is rolled in banana leaves and cooked in the Kanak oven, dug in the earth then covered with hot stones. The Melanesians have inventive ways of cooking the leaves of many vegetables, crabs, fish (raw or cooked), roussettes (fruit bats) and game. But all communities know how to use the rich produce from the land and sea in recipes 100% adapted for the tropics. Tuna, coral trout, trocas and golden carpetshells (shellfish), narrowbarred Spanish mackerel, spinefoot, bluespine unicornfish, spangled emperors, groupers, parrotfish, common dolphinfish, lobsters, popinées or Caledonian mitten lobsters (a kind of slipper lobster), rock or mangrove oysters, crabs, eels, freshwater or ocean prawns. Deer, wild pig, beef, roussettes (protected fruit bats), notou pigeons (protected large endemic pigeons). Yams, water taro, manioc, curried sweet potatoes, pumpkins, squash, poingo bananas (for cooking), avocados, bush hibiscus spinach, Chinese cabbage, mangos, pawpaws, guava, lychees, Polynesian plums, custard apples, passionfruit, bananas, strawberries, mandarins, melons and coconuts thus fill the basket of New Caledonian bush housewives. And you can taste a number of these specialities at any of the numerous host tables in Le Caillou (the rock, as the locals call New Caledonia).
The influences do not stop there, as there is a marked Asian culinary presence which has been adopted by everyone. The Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Japanese and Indians have made their spring rolls, ban bao (Vietnamese meat buns), siu mai (Chinese steamed ravioli), fried wontons, sweet lemon or soy-sauce pork, bum bo (Vietnamese meat and cold noodle salad), sashimi, bami, nasi goreng and samosas standard fare!
In the bush, very good local charcuterie is produced, particularly based on deer, and stews and other tasty ragouts simmer in New Caledonian pots. Note too that carpaccios and tuna, beef, deer, prawn or lobster tartare, as well as raw fish salad and trocas, generally appear on all menus. On the condiment shelf is a lot of chilli, relish, soy or Maggi sauce. In terms of drinks, the national beverage is Number One beer, manufactured locally, and Mont-Dore water is on every table.