22
Sep-2015

Falling in love with Seychelles and Creole cooking at the Boathouse Restaurant

On the north western coast of Mahé, in the bay of Beau Vallon, you’ll find The Boathouse Restaurant – home to Seychellois cuisine so authentic, it is considered the best Creole food in all of the 115 islands. 

“We used to live here; me, my brother, sister and my parents. It was our home.” Françoise smiles as she hands me a beer.  The sunset tints the entire restaurant in a rich golden yellow. “My parents were teachers at the time, but they weren’t making very much so my dad decided to start cooking for people, for tourists coming by … just two to four people a night. He was the original cook.”

Today, almost 20 years later, Richard Mancienne’s Boathouse is an iconic institution familiar to most of Seychelles, hosting evenings that come alive in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, great food, and great value for money.

“Why did you call it the Boathouse?” Secretly I wish I could live here, cook Creole food and stay forever.

“My uncle does boat charters, he has a big boat, he takes people out and he used to run the business from here …”

“So it is him sitting behind the stall?” 

“No, that is my other uncle, I have a very big family.”

(I don’t get seasick, I think to myself. I could totally help with the charters. I could stay forever!)

“My dad, Richard, built this whole building. He has always liked designing … almost as much as cooking!”

As I sat dawn for dinner that night I tried to come up with a decent description for Creole food, but alas. I’ll to stick to Seychelles Tourism Board’s fine description, as I think it actually hits the nail on the head: Creole cuisine has all the subtleties and nuances of French cooking, the exoticism of Indian food and the piquant flavours of the Orient … all in one.

“So you would say that you guys do some of the best Creole food in Seychelles?”

She laughs. “Yeah, yeah. I would say that.”

I wonder if I told them I’d wash dishes for ten months of they’d teach me to cook like this. Being way to shy to ask, I settled for again realising how important food is in the celebration of heritage and an authentic experience. It is important to not just see a place, but taste it – in turn savouring it till  the last bite and not gulping it all down like a take-away that could be ordered over some brand’s counter anywhere else in the world.

Words and Pictures: Daréll Lourens

With special thanks to Seychelles Tourism Board , Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label and Air Seychelles. Opinions expressed are my own.

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