The mango (La mangue)

Last week, I was talking with my mum over the phone and I was curious to know the current seasonal fruits in Guadeloupe. The funniest part was when she shouted: MANGOES!!! We are invaded with them she said! This made me remember that there is a mango tree at my parents’ house, in the front yard. As far as I remember, I grew up with this mango tree and really loved it because it was multipurpose. The shade of the tree has always been so helpful, especially during heatwave. Also, we never run out of mangoes as the tree was bearing lots of fruits. In this blog post, I am going to introduce the mango that has been an integral part of my childhood.

Origin & Description

The mango is native to South Asia and had been introduced in Guadeloupe in the late 18th century. Mango trees are quite tall reaching between 35 to 45 metres in height with a crown radius of 10 metres. Their barks are smooth and grey to dark brown-coloured. Mango trees have dense foliage; the alternate and evergreen leaves are quite persistent measuring 15 to 35 centimetres long and 6 to 16 centimetres broad. Young leaves are orange-pink but when mature, they become dark green as well as leathery and glossy.

Mango tree

Mangoes’ leaves and green mangoes

The fleshy fruit may be round or oval and weighs from 50 grams to over 1.5 kilograms. The immature fruit has green skin that gradually turns yellow, orange, purple, pink, red or a combination of all of these colours when mature, depending on the variety. When ripe the flesh is light yellow to orange as well as juicy, sweet and fibrous. The fruit has a single large seed.

Mango flesh

Mango flesh

There are over 180 species of mangoes in Guadeloupe out of the 2000 all around the world. The most famous are:

  • Mango “Pomme”, a low fibre mango with a round shape
  • Mango “Fil”, a high fibre mango with an oval shape
  • Mango “Boeuf” which is one of the largest variety
  • Mango “Julie”, an oval and flat-shaped mango with light-green and red skin
  • Mango “Reine Amélie”, has a thinner skin than the other species
  • Mango “Greffée”
  • Mango “Zékodenn

diferent colour mangoes

Coulourful ripe mangoes

Culinary use

In Guadeloupe, there are multiple ways to enjoy a mango. Obviously, the most common way is to devour the ripe fruit raw as a dessert or snack. When I was younger, I remember spending hours with my friend just binging on mangoes as there were mangoes trees everywhere in my area. Alternatively, mango juices, mango jams, mango punchs and mango sorbets are very famous. Green mangoes are used in fish court-bouillon, fish blaff or Colombo (curry based dish with pork, lamb, chicken or beef) giving the food a soft touch of sourness. You can also enjoy a tasty grated green mango salad with a good vinaigrette as a starter.

Nutrients content and Health benefits

The mango fruit is rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids antioxidant compounds.

The fruit is an excellent source of vitamins such as:

  • Vitamin A which helps the skin to become softer and shinier
  • Vitamin C which helps the body to develop resistance against infectious agents
  • Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin E
  • Folates
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamin

But also, rich in:

  • Minerals such as: Copper, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc and manganese.
  • Electrolytes: Potassium (to regulate the blood pressure) and sodium.
  • Flavonoids like Beta-carotene, Alpha-carotene, and Beta-cryptoxanthin.

When visiting Guadeloupe, the best period to savour a mango is between May to September. If you are lucky enough, you could probably find a mango tree and help yourself without spending a single euro.

single mango

The “Floup”

Spring is just around the corner and Summer will follow as quickly as a wink, which means warmer weather, sleeveless tops, sandals, barbecues and ice creams. Speaking about ice cream, this blog post is dedicated to a famous ice pop in Guadeloupe Archipelago called Floup. Let’s find out more about this ice pop snack.

Origin

The Floup has been created in 1970 in Martinique our sister island, more precisely in Super a fizzy drink factory in Saint-Joseph Township. The name Floup is a Creole onomatopoeia describing a fall. When dropping something in creole we say: “I tombé floup”. Since then, Floup has become a well-known brand and the market leader for ice pop in the French West Indies (Guadeloupe and Martinique) as well as French Guiana.

Description

With an ice pop bag packaging, the floup is a delicious and fun treat you will enjoy anywhere. To open and eat it, you will need to bite and cut off the ice pop bag and then gulp it. As you are going along, you will definitely experience a deep feeling of freshness and tastiness depending on the flavour.

With a broad range of recipes and flavours, there are two types of floup:

  • The Milk-based pasteurised ice pop (Almond, Peanut, Chocolate, Coconut, Pina colada, Vanilla and Milk-grenadine)
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Milk-based floup: Vanilla

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Milk-based floup: Peanut

 

  • The Water-based pasteurised ice pop for those who are not consuming dairy (Anise syrup, Pineapple, Cola kampane syrup, Lime, Blue orange, Strawberry, Exotic, Grenadine, Mint, Orange, Grape, Sinobol which is a mix of mint and grenadine and mint and Barley water)
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Water-based floup: Exotic

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Water-based floup: Cola kampane syrup

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Water-based floup: Strawberry

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Water-based floup: Lime

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Anise-flavoured floup

A single floup is 125 millilitres and cost under 1 Euro at your local convenience store also called Lolo or at the bakery. If you are going to a grocery store, you will be able to buy a handy multi pack of 4. The multi pack is recognisable due to the bear mascot on the packaging.

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Multi pack of 4 mint floups

The floup is part of the French Guiana and French Caribbean Islands’ identity as well as being part of the culinary heritage in Guadeloupe Archipelago. When visiting the archipelago, don’t forget to try this unmissable ice pop treat, especially because of hot temperatures throughout the year.

Allée dumanoir

Guadeloupe is an archipelago with a splendiferous landscape composed of stunning beaches, a vibrant and vigorous aquatic and terrestrial fauna as well as a luxuriant flora. Today’s blog post is dedicated to a random but noticeable place in Basse-Terre Island that will definitely draw your attention due to its originality. This site is called “l’Allée Dumamoir”.

Located in Capesterre Belle-Eau Township in Basse-Terre Island, “l’Allée Dumanoir” is a road lined up with twin rows of large royal palm trees on each side. This majestic 1200-metres-long road with over 400 trees is breathtaking when seeing for the first time.

The first palm trees were planted in the late 19th century by a member of the Pinel-Dumanoir family, hence the name of the place. “L’allée Dumanoir” has been classified as a historic and touristic monument, therefore major improvements have always been made to preserve the beauty of the place. Over the years, bad weather such as the 1928 hurricane has damaged the site but, new palms were replanted in 1933. In 1966, 2 extra rows were added. In 1998, the ONF (Office National des Forêts) has planted 120 young palm trees. Ten years later in 2008, the RN1 highway layout was redesigned allowing l’Allée Dumanoir to become a traffic-free road.

If you passing by Capesterre Belle Eau Township, get the opportunity to admire or even take a picture of this impressive scenery.

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Double rows of Palm trees

The Star Fruit (La carambole)

The star fruit also known as the “Carambole” is very popular in Guadeloupe Archipelago. The juice and sorbet are highly appreciated by the population. Let’s take a closer look to this star-shaped fruit.

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Star-shaped when cut

Origin & Description

Although this juicy tropical fruit is native to Asia, the tree is also cultivated in tropical areas such as the Caribbean, South America and the Southern United States.  Star fruits are oval shaped, 2 to 6 inches in length with about 5 prominent longitudinal ridges. When cutting the fruit into cross sections, the slices are star-shaped. The skin is thin and smooth with a light to dark yellow colour when ripe. The flesh is translucent, crunchy and extremely juicy with a light yellow to yellow colour. There are up to 12 flat light brown seeds 6 to 13 mm long. In terms of taste, the flavour ranges from very sour to slightly sweet.

Culinary use

Star fruits can be easily eaten out of hand as you won’t need to peel or seed them beforehand. In Guadeloupe Archipelago, star fruits are generally consumed in juices, jams, sorbets, sauces and punch. With their original star shapes, they are also ideal to garnish and decorate dishes and desserts. Star fruits can be prepared in many other ways for instance, in China and Thailand they are cooked as a vegetable with fish or shrimp.

Nutrients content and Health benefits

The star fruit has an extensive list of essential nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins required for well-being. Star fruit is rich in vitamins such as vitamin B and vitamin C, that is essential to boost your immune system and fight against cold or flu. In addition to that, the fruit is full of antioxidants and flavonoids as well as minerals including potassium, phosphorus, zinc and iron.

The star fruit is accessible in Guadeloupe Archipelago throughout the year. Don’t miss it when visiting by simply ask “une carambole” or “un jus de carambole”.

star-fruit-tree

Star Fruit tree

Papaya Flan (Flan à la papaye)

After the introduction to the papaya gratin, this post will be dedicated to a recipe with the ripe fruit. Here is a simple recipe of the papaya flan that can be served as a dessert or snack. Other tropical fruits such as the coconut, the mango or the banana can be used instead of the papaya.

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 1 medium size ripe papaya
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons of milk (you can use any milk of your choice)
  • 7 tablespoons of sugar (according to your preference)
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • A knob of butter

 

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 150C
  • Peel, wash and dice the papaya
  • In a sauce pan bring some slightly salted water to a boil and add the papaya during 10 minutes
  • Put the papaya in a colander and cover it up with a plate to let it drain totally
  • In a bowl, mash the papaya until smooth
  • Add the eggs, the sugar and the flour and stir
  • While stirring clockwise, add the knob of butter
  • Grease a baking pan and pour the mixture in it
  • Bake in a bain-marie for about 30 minutes
  • Let it cool then put it in the fridge for 2 hours before tasting

 

BONNE APPETIT!!!

 

 

Papaya gratin recipe (Recette du gratin de papaye)

After the introduction to the papaya, I would like to share a recipe with the unripe fruit that can be served as a main for lunch or dinner. Here is a delicious recipe of the papaya gratin which is tremendously famous in Guadeloupe Archipelago.

Ingredients for 6 people

–          3 unripe green papayas

–          45 centilitre of milk

–          30 grams of butter

–          150g of grated gruyere cheese

–          3 branches of fresh parsley

–          3 cloves of garlic

–          2 onions

–          5 branches of spring onions

–          Half a teaspoon of allspice

–          1 pinch of ground nutmeg

–          2 branches of fresh thyme

–          Salt, pepper

Instructions

–          Wash, take off the seeds, peel and cut the papayas in big chunks

–          Put the chunks in a sauce pan, cover them with boiled salty water and allow to cook for half an hour

–          Once cooked drain them

–          Put them through a food mill and set aside

–          Chop finely the garlics, onions, parsley, spring onions and thyme

–          In a saucepan, melt the butter with the chopped vegetables

–          Add the milk and the nutmeg

–          Stir well and add mashed papaya

–          While stirring everything add the allspice, pepper and half cheese

–          Pour the mix in a gratin dish and sprinkle with half cheese left

–          Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes

The gratin can be served with a good pork, lamb or beef stew and green salad.

BONNE APPETIT!!!

The papaya (La papaye)

In the list of tropical fruits available in Guadeloupe Archipelago, I am calling the papaya. Let’s find out more about this smooth skinned and tasty fruit that Christopher Columbus used to call the “fruit of angels”

Origin & Description

Native to Central America, papaya trees are large, fast-growing and short-lived with a single trunk that can reach from 15 to 35 feet (5 to 10 metres) tall. The palmate leaves are deeply lobed and large reaching from 60 to 90 centimetres in width. Papayas fruits are usually spherical or cylindrical in form with an average length of 20 inches (50 centimetres) and can weigh up to 11 pounds (5 kg). However, the biggest in the variety found in Guadeloupe Archipelago weighs about 2 pounds (1kg). Considered as a berry, the ripe papaya fruit is slightly sweet with a musky taste. The flesh is orange to salmon-coloured and has a soft and juicy consistency. There are multiple black and round-shaped seeds encased in a gelatinous- like substance in the inner cavity of the fruit. The seeds are edible although they have a bitter taste.

papayer

Papaya tree

 

Culinary uses

Ripe papayas are commonly consumed fresh as a breakfast or dessert. There is also a wide range of products you can easily make from the fruit such as jams, fruit juices, ices cream, pies, confections and dried papaya fruits. Unripe green papayas can be used and cooked as a vegetable in several ways including salads, stews, stir-fry or gratin. In Guadeloupe Archipelago, the papaya gratin is a famous dish that will delight your taste buds. In some parts of Asia, the young leaves of the papaya are steamed and eaten like spinach.

Nutrients content and Health benefits

Papayas are rich sources of antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins A, beta-carotene, vitamins C and flavonoids, the B vitamins including folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), riboflavin and thiamin as well as a large amount of minerals like potassium, copper and magnesium. There are also full of fibres.

Almost all parts of the papaya (fruit, seed, root, stem, leaf, flower, peel and latex) are used for their health benefits, the list is endless. Here are few health benefits of papayas:

–          Asthma prevention

–          Cancer prevention

–          Constipation prevention

–          Digestion assistance

–          Improvement of Eye health

–          Intestinal parasites killer

–          Improvement and healing of the skin

–          Reduction of risk of stroke

–          Reduction of risk of cardiovascular disease

In Guadeloupe Archipelago, papayas are accessible throughout the year. Don’t miss it out when visiting especially the papaya gratin served with an excellent stew.

The manatee in Guadeloupe Archipelago (Le Lamantin sur l’archipel de Guadeloupe)

In this blog post, I am going to focus on the manatee which has been reintroduced this summer in Guadeloupe Archipelago. Let’s dig deeper into the subject.

What is a manatee?

Manatees also known as sea cows are large marine mammals. The average adult manatee is between 8 to 13 feet (2 to 4 metres) long and weighs between 800 to 1200 pounds (350 to 550 kilos). Manatees are herbivores and eat a broad variety of submerged, emergent and floating plants including alligator weed, hyacinth, mangrove leaves, marine algae, musk grass, pickerel weed, sea grasses, shoal grass, water celery, water lettuce or widgeon grass. However, small fishes and invertebrates can be ingested along with the vegetation diet sometimes.

 

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Alligator weed

 

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Pickerel weed

 

 

As a marine mammal manatees swim in coastal waters and rivers and never leave the water. This is why they must breathe air at the surface. Manatees are slow-moving animals and generally glide along at 9 kilometres an hour and can swim 25 kilometres an hour. A typical day of a manatee is mostly eating, resting and travelling.

In terms of breeding, manatees are not sexually mature until they are about five years old. Furthermore, the reproductive rate is quite low with a breeding every 2 to 5 years with and the birth of a single calf. The gestation period lasts about a year plus a further 12 to 18 months to wean the calf.

 With a lifespan of about 60 years, some of their deaths are the result of human activities such as habitat destruction. In the past, manatees were hunted and exploited for their meat, fat and hides.

 The manatee in Guadeloupe Archipelago

Until the first half of the 19th century, there were West Indian manatees in Guadeloupe Archipelago waters. Unfortunately, from the 20th century the animal has been listed as an endangered species because of tremendous hunting. Nowadays manatees are no longer living in the Archipelago but few years ago, the National Park of Guadeloupe has undertaken an ambitious project: the reintroduction of the West Indian manatee in the “Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin” bay*. Indeed, the “Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin” bay* represents a well-managed area with relatively minor threats to manatees, compared to many other locations in the wider Caribbean. This project aims to improve the global conservation status of the species and subspecies by restoring a population in Guadeloupe Archipelago as well as regaining a strong element of biodiversity, lost by human actions.

After multiple discussions with several countries where manatees still live, the National Park of Guadeloupe has concluded an agreement with Singapore. Kai and Junior, two young manatees have arrived in Guadeloupe Archipelago in August and will be part of a breeding programme. The long term goal of the project is to bring other manatees from diverse countries to avoid inbreeding and therefore having a healthy herd. Mexico, Guyana and Colombia are the next targeted countries.

*The “Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin” is a famous bay in Guadeloupe Archipelago located between north coast Basse-Terre and west coast Grande-Terre.

Sea turtles in Guadeloupe Archipelago (Tortues marines sur l’archipel de Guadeloupe)

Sea turtles are part of the heritage in Guadeloupe Archipelago, they testify how healthy marine ecosystems are. Five out of seven species identified all over the world are in the National Park of Guadeloupe Archipelago. Here they are:

  • Green sea turtle
  • Hawksbill sea turtle
  • Leatherback sea turtle
  • Loggerhead sea turtle
  • Olive ridley sea turtle

However, only the first three are coming to lay eggs on Guadeloupe archipelago beaches. Let’s find out a bit more about them.

  • Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

The green turtle is a large, weighty sea turtle with a wide, smooth carapace, or shell. It heights up to 150 centimetres for a maximum weight of 400 kilograms. Even though the green turtle has a greenish skin, its heart-shaped carapace is brown, grey or olive. Juvenile green turtles are omnivores and eat invertebrates like crabs, jellyfish or zooplankton. Once adults they become herbivores and feed on sea grasses and algae. To nest, female green turtles dig a hole in the sand with their flippers, fill it with a clutch of 75 to 200 eggs, cover the hole and return to the sea, leaving the eggs to hatch for about two months. They can also lay several clutches before leaving the nesting area. Green turtles rarely lay their eggs in Guadeloupe Archipelago (less than an hundred per year) but when they do it occurs between May and October.

  • Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Hawksbill sea turtles are the most common in Guadeloupe Archipelago. They height up to 120 centimetres and weight between 60 to 70 kilograms. While young, their carapace is heart-shaped and as they mature it elongates. The colour of their carapace range from dark to golden brown with streaks of orange, red or black. Hawksbills are omnivores and eat molluscs, marine algae, crustaceans, fish and jellyfish. Mating occurs every two to three years and takes place in shallow waters close to the shore. The nesting season happens from June to September in Guadeloupe Archipelago. Female hawksbills nest at night, laying three to six clutches per season at two weeks intervals. The average life span of this sea turtle is about 30 to 50 years.

 

Tortue imbriquee

Hawksbill sea turtle

  • Leatherback sea turtle (Demochelys coriacea)

Leatherbacks are the largest and oldest turtles on Earth, growing up to two metres long and exceeding 900 kilograms.  Unlike all other sea turtles, leatherbacks don’t have a hard shell. Their carapaces are dark grey or black with white or pale spots, large, elongated and flexible with 7 distinct ridges running the length of the animal. Furthermore, the carapace does not have scales except in hatchlings and is composed of a layer of thin and rubbery skin to the touch. This flexible carapace allows them to dive to great depths, which is not the case for other sea turtles. In terms of diet, leatherbacks can consume twice their own body weight in prey per day but they have delicate, scissor-like jaws that enable them to eat only soft-bodied invertebrates such as jellyfish or tunicates. Female leatherbacks nest between four to seven times per season with an average of 90 eggs for each nest. Contrary to other sea turtles, female leatherbacks tend to change nesting beaches. Female leatherbacks nest in Guadeloupe Archipelago beaches relatively infrequently.

Leatherback

Leatherback sea turtle

These 3 species of sea turtles are protected by ministerial decree since the 14th of October 2005 and are also listed on the endangered species list.

Shell museum (Le musée du coquillage)

As an Archipelago, Guadeloupe has an important marine life. For instance, there is a variety of beautiful shells in Guadeloupe beaches. Here is an introduction to the Associative Shell museum located in Pointe-Noire Township (Basse-Terre Island)

The passionate owners Mr and Mrs Desjardins will be delighted to welcome you in a charming wooden house. During the visit, you will discover over 2500 species of shells from Guadeloupe Archipelago but also from all around the world. At first, you will find out more about a wide range of 400-million-year-old fossils that are basically the shells ancestors. Then, you will learn more about local species from Guadeloupe Archipelago as well as from other continents.

The beauty of those sea jewelleries is breathtaking as they are diversified in terms of colour, shape or size. Once again, local artists have shown their creativity by creating multiple decorative objects and jewelleries composed of shells. You will be able to see all of these artistic pieces when going to the boutique that has also instructive books on shells.

The last part of the visit will be in the library where you will get the opportunity to see documentaries on different shells from all over the globe.

The museum works in partnership with the National Park of Guadeloupe Archipelago and is member of a local association that is increasing awareness of eco-tourism.

Don’t miss out another fascinating site of Guadeloupe Archipelago when passing by Basse-Terre Island. Before leaving, you will get insightful information about how to protect the terrestrial and marine wildlife of the archipelago.

Here are the details to access the museum:

Opening hours:  The museum is open every day from 9.30am to 1pm and 2.30pm to 6pm from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday, you will need to book an appointment.

Fares: Adults: 5€ / Children from 6 to 12 years old: 2€

Address:

Plage Caraïbe

97116 POINTE NOIRE

Phone number: 05 90 98 69 37