“Streams, now silently meandering, now roaring down into the depths, are bordered with climbing plants, all looking very similar, and trees from whose branches hang great clumps of fern. All these flowering plants are a splendid sight. Mosses and maidenhair ferns grow in the shade of rocks. Fallen tree-trunks are covered in huge mushrooms and other growths shimmering with many different hues.”
– Milbert, Voyage Pittoresque A L’Iles De France
I couldn’t help myself, had to start with a reference to this island’s Natural beauty! The way I see it, Mauritius has 2 oceans. The fabulous Indian Ocean on which it resides, and the ocean of green sugarcane fields. Both beautiful and breathtaking, one savoury the other very sweet, yet both equally important to the island. If you are one of us who enjoy indepth exploration of food and produce, then the Aventure du Sucre (Adventure of Sugar) in Mauritius is an activity you do not want to miss out on.
Every city you visit you will find yourself making the choice of either doing “Touristy” activities, or planning a set of activities that you want to do either to explore the place deeper, experience its culture first hand or see it as it really is. One of the most interesting things about Mauritius, is that some of its “Touristy” activities are in fact very enriching to the whole experience. Best of all, because Mauritius is an island whose story, culture and system had always been and still revolve around produce, its tourist activities are mostly very much related to food, and food’s historical evolution. Very much why I find Mauritius to be a proper Culinary Destination.
One such activity is L’aventure du Sucre or the Adventure of Sugar. Which is an initiative undertaken by three Mauritian sugar groups (Constance La Gaiete Co Ltd, Deep River Beau Champ Ltd, and Harel Freres Ltd.), in which they have established a museum on the historical sugarcane plantation ‘Beau Plan’. This Museum is a historical account of the island’s history and its evolution, from the time the Dutch set foot on Mauritius, until today. It covers the establishment of Mauritius, its transitional state from Dutch, to a french colony, and finally to British.
With all these transitions and evolutions come the people whose works and lives created this island. The museum explores their stories, triumphs and less admirable phases; touching on slavery, early labourers and the harsh conditions they faced back then. Moving on to the development and the establishment of an equal and multicultural society that makes the people of Mauritius today.
Not only does this Museum tell the story of Mauritius and its people, but most importantly to culinary travelers, it also tells the story of sugar. From tracking sugar back to ancient history, to exploring its route through the world, its political influence, to its scarcity during WWI, and the resulting Sugar Wars… it is all covered and ready for you to explore in a variety of mediums. From short films, to historical collections of artifacts, documents, as well as modelled ships and the displayed machinery .. you will be taken on a ride, so real, that you actually see and feel the historical transition and evolution of the whole of Mauritius and its sugar industry.
And if history and stories are not enough, for those into technical knowledge, the museum also covers the sugar production process and its resulting products. You will even take a walk through the machines used in extracting cane sugar from the fields to the mills, the clarifiers, the evaporators, vacuum pans, crystallizers, centrefugals and even the chemistry lab. All along, you will be reading and seeing how sugar transforms from cane to the many sugars we all know and consume. This is truly the single most informative activity you can do when in Mauritius as it really covers everything.
L’aventure du Sucre also includes a large display of arts depicting sugar from as early as the 15th century up to the modern day. These paintings are a marvelous show case of the importance of sugar to our lives. They explore how sugar – once a rare and precious commodity – was limited to upper classes and royalties, and how it used to be a measure of a nation’s wealth and prosperity. You will see it’s use in the sculptures and the decadent table arts of the aristocratic communities, to even its power over nations and their eagerness to possess and control its source.
As such tours do, once you have gone on this one, you will fully understand why food is reflective of culture. How food is a mirror, through which you understand human nature. And why any cuisine is really the summary of a nation and the shortcut to understanding its local people. This is the root of Culinary Travel, exploring the flavours, the produce and the people behind it; thus exploring the spirit and true nature of a place.
Do be warned though, this adventure is large, and rich with material, so you would want to dedicate at least a half day if you are to adequately explore it. With that said, I do recommend you go on that ride. It is very interesting. Once done from the museum, you can visit their gift shop, where you get to sample the different varieties of sugar, which is really good for you to understand the differences in flavours, textures and therefore uses. There you will also get to sample this venue’s different types of agricultural rums and their super tasty sugar truffles. In true fashion of most Mauritius gift shops, you will want to buy everything, as everything is so elegantly displayed, so beautifully handmade and also so deliciously flavoured, so make sure you have cash on you. Then you can enjoy a fabulous meal in their restaurant, or even sample a dessert or a few made with their sugars.
It is no wonder that the international sugar authority, Francis Maxwell, said: “One doesn’t generally realise that this little island, lost in the Indian Ocean, is one of the main pioneers of the world sugar industry, both in the production of sugar and in the cultivation of sugarcane”. It is so true and very clearly evident once you have gone on the Adventure of Sugar.
This is just to give you an idea of what to expect from going on L’aventure du Sucre. I will leave it at that and leave the rest for you to explore when in Mauritius.
Here are some relative Mauritius Links
Mauritius Travel Posts
- 5 day trip planner to Mauritius
- Mauritius – the sweet culinary adventure & the very definition of mother earth
- Mauritius – the adventure of sugar
- Mauritius – the tea route
- Mauritius – tried & tested restaurants & the island’s must eats
- Video Clip of Fun Mauritius
- Video Clip of Culinary Mauritius
Mauritius Recipe Posts
- Shrimp Beignets
- Breadfruit Gratin
- Calamari Shrimp Vindaye (mustard-based curry)
- Mini Cinnamon Glazed Vanilla Tea Loaves & Muffins
- Gingered Crab Samosa