This chapter, more than others in this book, is based primarily on facts that I have observed in the archipelagos of the Indian Ocean, especially on Réunion and Rodriguez, and on my own experience in these areas, which includes historical documentation, my thesis research, and my research for linguistic and ethnographic atlases. The only other serious reference on the subject matter is La cuisine réunionnaise (1984) by Marie Valentin – who, incidentally, was a member of our research team. It may seem surprising that I make such little use of the multitude of books on the cooking of both the Antilles and the Indian Ocean published in the last decade. Baggioni and Marimoutou discuss them, and provide the following sociological explanation for their proliferation:
It is from meeting the ‘other’ that a new mutual social need arises to verbalize a cultural specificity. … This book on Réunionnais cuisine addresses two different audiences: on the one hand, a small educated Réunionnais bourgeoisie anxious to assert itself through its specificity (at least in this respect); and, on the other hand, metropolitan consumers concerned with ‘exotic’ discoveries, for whom a book on cooking is part of a travel guide organized for an extended stay.