Mauritius: interethnic relations through rice and rum

According to Aristotle, Man is by nature a social being. Undeniably, humans have evolved towards a social and cultural behaviour, thus codifying their eating habits; even though human beings have a vital need to eat and drink, as it is the case for animals. Humanity has therefore, developed a form of identity based on food models. In Mauritius, a multicultural and multiethnic society, there are several food models and eating behaviours. Consequently, people can expect either rejection or acceptance from other ethnic groups that share different food behaviours. Nevertheless, rice and curry are no more subject to ethnic categorisation in Mauritius. That situation is true as well for French territories like La Réunion, Guadeloupe and Martinique. Rum is different, for it is more ethnically associated to a particular ethnic group, the Creole. In this paper, I will first study rice as a marker of identity through various recipes and rum as a marker of personal and ethnic identities. I will show their limits of inclusion and exclusion in Mauritian society by focusing on the Mauritians’ eating and drinking habits. I will explain how, through food patterns, there is not only a search for unity and acceptance but rejection of Otherness as well. Furthermore, food being closely related to nutrition, I will focus on post colonial and food behaviours in modern period in relation to globalisation. This part will shed lights on global food effects in a multiethnic society.