Top 6 Food Experiences In Tahiti

They say that you have to taste a culture in order to understand it. Fortunately for me, Tahiti's food offers a lot of active participation and experience rather than just the usual sit-down-and-eat type of meal. I recently visited The Islands of Tahiti (Papeete and Moorea) and sampled a lot of Tahitian food. I left Tahiti with not only with a very full stomach, but with a deeper appreciation and understanding of Tahitian food and way of life. Here are my top Tahitian food experiences should you ever find yourself in the stunning islands of Tahiti!


1 The Food Trucks of Papeete

FĀRI'IPITI, PAPE'ETE, FRENCH POLYNESIA

If you find yourself in Papeete (which is Tahiti's capital, by the way) and want to eat where most locals do, you can't get any more local than the Papeete Food Trucks or Papeete Roulottes.
Unlike other food trucks I've seen elsewhere in the world where the 'truck' is a permanently planted on the ground, the food trucks of Papeete only really pop up at night. 
One is spoilt for choice with the food trucks of Papeete. From crepes, raclette, Chinese food, Seafood--name any kind of food specialty and there may just be the food truck for you. 
I went with seafood (because, hey when you are in Tahiti it's practically a crime not to try the freshest seafood!) and was very, very satisfied with their grilled tuna. 
Simple food, but as it was done with just the right smoke and flavour, not to mention it was probably just off the hook - the tuna steaks were extremely tender and succulent.

2 Learn to Make Poisson Cru

MO'OREA, FRENCH POLYNESIA

Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. We were taught how to make Poisson Cru after an exciting day of snorkelling with sting rays and sharks. Poisson Cru is the Tahitian ceviche, raw tuna marinated (and cooked) with lime and coconut milk.
In Moorea, we went on a lagoon tour which involved swimming with black reef tip sharks and rays. Lunch was included so we went on a little motu (island) and had our picnic lunch.
Our guide showed us very ingenious ways of opening and shaving a coconut, and also proceeded to show us the very simple process of making Poisson Cru.
Even if you don't normally take raw fish, this is a must-try when in Tahiti. The citrus cooked the tuna well enough for it to turn white, and the coconut milk added a delicate taste to balance out the lime.

3 Sample an Ahima'a or Underground Cooking

BP 28, MOOREA, MAHAREPA 98728, FRENCH POLYNESIA

You simply cannot spend time in Tahiti without having a taste of Ahima'a or the Polynesian underground cooking. The easy and quick description of Ahima'a would be a "Polynesian oven", but there's really a lot more to that. 
The Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort offers an Ahima'a dinner every Thursday evening. The preparation alone for an Ahima'a dinner takes pretty much an entire day. First, local food and ingredients are sourced and marinated. Then the underground oven has to be cleared, and the food goes in. The underground oven is sealed using volcanic rocks in a pyramid shape with lots of other natural sealants in order to make sure the food is clean and secure inside. Food is then left to cook underground for an average of 6 hours.
Because of the extreme amount of effort to prepare for an Ahima'a, Tahitians normally prepare this when there's a feast of 10 people or more. 
The food cooked from Ahima'a tastes very natural and healthy as there are no unnecessary oils or additives.

4 Drink Fresh Pineapple Juice from a Plantation

BP1007 - PAPETOAI, PAPETOAI 98728

Pineapple is one of Moorea's main agricultural products so they really nurture and cultivate it. The Agricultural College of Moorea (Lycee Agricole Opunohu) offers a guided tour of the college, which includes a nearby pineapplu and papaya plantation.
After the tour, be sure to go to the college 'juice bar' and get yourself the most refreshing drink you can have on a hot afternoon - fresh pineapply juice or slushie.
The students of the agricultural college are very helpful and more than happy to provide information about their flora.
This visit to the college also provides a very picturesque view of Moorea's trademark mountains, which are the inspiration behind the musical South Pacific.

5 Papeete Market

BP4588, PAPEETE 98713, FRENCH POLYNESIA

Rise early in the morning and see the Papeete Market in action. The heart and cornerstone of every city is its public market, and the Papeete Market is no exception. 
This is a good chance for you to see fresh local produce. Seafood, meat, flowers, local fruits, vegetables, bread..there's even a souvenir section which is a great place to get your memorabilla as anywhere else may be slightly more expensive. 
After you've had a good stroll of the market and its surrounds, head up to the second floor and have breakfast at Cafe Maeva. They offer an array of healthy but tasty breakfast like coconut oat bowls and freshly squeezed orange juice. 
I enjoyed a coconut bowl of acai, oats, cranberry and chia seeds with mango and it was such a refreshing start to the day.

6 A Cultural Dinner Night at the Sofitel Moorea

BP 28, MOOREA, MAHAREPA 98728, FRENCH POLYNESIA

I saved the most festive food experience for last. This one is absolutely a night to remember. 
The Sofitel Moorea offers a very lively cultural show on top of their Ahima'a dinner. And there's not a dull moment to have in this dinner. 
Lively drum beats, live singing, and energetic traditional dancing are just some of the highlights of this dinner. 
I found myself at the edge of my seat watching the performers dance with fire. 
There's also a chance to join in the dancing and festivities, and I highly recommend that you do so. And even if you don't, you will find yourself tapping your feet or bobbing your head to the beat. The energy is just infectious!

Tahiti is definitely a destination that offers more than just stunning beaches and sunsets. The colours and flavours of its food and culture are bound to stay with you for a long, long time. Is Tahiti on your bucketlist?

Credits: Jeanholysmithereens

FoodRob ThompsonTahiti