Jane's Delicious Garden Blog


Sugar and Spice and All things Nice!

Posted in Travels by Jane Griffiths on the March 6th, 2018

One of the great joys of travelling is discovering new flavours, tastes and ingredients. In Madagascar – I was in heaven! Influenced by African, Indian, Malay, Arabic and French cultures, Malagasy cuisine is diverse and delicious. And with a sub-tropical climate, the local ingredients are intriguing.

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The road south from Ankarana National Park to Nosy Be is dotted with villages and market towns. We stop to browse.

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THB – Three Horse Beer is very popular and quickly becomes our favourite choice.

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Cheerful vendor advertising his wares.

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The French legacy of delicious baked baguettes.

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There is plenty of snack food to go . . .

Rice paddies (5)

We travel past many rice paddies – the staple diet of Madagascar.

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And have to stop often for herds of Zebu

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Until we arrive at Plantation Millot

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Established by Frenchman Lucien Millot in 1904 this plantation continues the age old tradition of growing a cornucopia of fruit and spice delights, from cacao to vanilla, pepper to pineapples.

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The climate and soil here are ideal for the finest cacao to be grown. Seedlings are grown in a “greenhouse” created by palm fronds. The growing medium is extremely fertile Zebu manure.

Cacao growing (6)

Cacao harvesting (7)

Cacao harvesting (8)

The rare Criollo variety that was initially introduced has evolved into hybrids such as Trinitario and Forastero, with unique fruity flavours. Cacao from Plantation Millot is used by Valrhona and Lindt as well as many smaller boutique European chocolate manufacturers.

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Once harvested, beans are covered with banana leaves and hessian and go through an acid and lactic fermentation process. This flavours the inedible raw beans and changes them to a reddish brown.

Cacao beans drying

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Women sorting cacao beans (1)

After a few weeks baking and drying in the sun, they are sorted, mostly by women, and packed into bags to be shipped.

After a few weeks baking and drying in the sun, they are sorted, mostly by women, and packed into bags to be shipped.

Next – I discover vanilla, bread fruit, pepper and more.

If you want to follow in our footsteps go to Animal Tracks Islandventures to book your Madagascan adventure.

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