Malagasy cuisine

Malagasy cuisine encompasses the many diverse culinary traditions of the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar. Foods eaten in Madagascar reflect the influence of Southeast Asian, African, Indian, Chinese and European migrants that have settled on the island since it was first populated by seafarers from Borneo between 100 CE and 500 CE. Rice, the cornerstone of the Malagasy diet, was cultivated alongside tubers and other Southeast Asian staples by these earliest settlers. Their diet was supplemented by foraging and hunting wild game, which contributed to the extinction of the island's bird and mammal megafauna. These food sources were later complemented by beef in the form of zebu introduced into Madagascar by East African migrants arriving around 1,000 CE. Trade with Arab and Indian merchants and European transatlantic traders further enriched the island's culinary traditions by introducing a wealth of new fruits, vegetables and seasonings. Throughout almost the entire island, the contemporary cuisine of Madagascar typically consists of a base of rice served with an accompaniment; in the official dialect of the Malagasy language, the rice is termed vary ([?var?]), and the accompaniment, laoka ([?lok]). The many varieties of laoka may be vegetarian or include animal proteins, and typically feature a sauce flavored with such ingredients as ginger, onion, garlic, tomato, vanilla, salt, curry powder, or, less commonly, other spices or herbs. In parts of the arid south and west, pastoral families may replace rice with maize, cassava, or curds made from fermented zebu milk. A wide variety of sweet and savory fritters as well as other street foods are available across the island, as are diverse tropical an

temperate-climate fruits. Locally produced beverages include fruit juices, coffee, tisanes and teas, and alcoholic drinks such as rum, wine and beer. The range of dishes eaten in Madagascar in the 21st century offers insight into the island's unique history and the diversity of the peoples who inhabit it today. The complexity of Malagasy meals can range from the simple, traditional preparations introduced by the earliest settlers, to the refined festival dishes prepared for the island's 19th-century monarchs. Although the classic Malagasy meal of rice and its accompaniment remains predominant, over the past 100 years other food types and combinations have been popularized by French colonists and immigrants from China and India. Consequently, Malagasy cuisine is traditional while also assimilating newly emergent cultural influences. Austronesian seafarers are believed to have been the first humans to settle on the island, arriving between 100 and 500 CE. In their outrigger canoes they carried food staples from home including rice, plantains, taro, and water yam. Sugarcane, ginger, sweet potatoes, pigs and chickens were also probably brought to Madagascar by these first settlers, along with coconut and banana. The first concentrated population of human settlers emerged along the southeastern coast of the island, although the first landfall may have been made on the northern coast. Upon arrival, early settlers practiced tavy (swidden, "slash-and-burn" agriculture) to clear the virgin coastal rainforests for the cultivation of crops. They also gathered honey, fruits, bird and crocodile eggs, mushrooms, edible seeds and roots, and brewed alcoholic beverages from honey and sugar cane juice.