Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Mauritius a volcanic island way out in the Indian Ocean (about 800 km/500 miles east of the very much bigger island formerly called Madagascar and now the Malagasy Republic), has a relatively short history so far as human beings are concerned. Although there is evidence that Arab sailors had seen it earlier, it was the Portuguese who ‘discovered’ the island in 1510; and it was not colonized until the end of the 16th century, when the Dutch established themselves there and stayed for over a century. The French succeeded them in 1715, colonizing the island under the name ‘Isle de France’ and lasted for almost another century until ousted by the British, who restored the Dutch name ‘Mauritius’ (after a prince of the house of Nassau) and retained the island until it became independent in 1968.