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Published: September 30th 2017
Papeete's Colourful Market ...
... Is that winter melon??? Tahiti is known for having a rather substantial Chinese population, and the fact that you can find winter melon at the market certainly supports that.
Geo: -17.52, -149.56
The venerable Roulotte, the iconic food truck of French Polynesia - you don't eat at one of these looking for any gourmet cuisine, but you do come here if you are looking for the quintessential local experience. There's definitely a ton of variety here, especially at Papeete's waterfront, which is known for its especially large collection of Roulottes, the biggest in all of French Polynesia, and its bustling atmosphere.
There isn't a whole lot to do in Papeete, which is used by most travelers as simply a pit stop for a night before or after a flight or cruise, but we were glad that we were able to sample the Roulottes before moving on tomorrow morning. Eating here is a slice of Tahitian life, and a great way to introduce ourselves to the local cuisine and culture, which, shockingly, had a heavy Chinese influence! Who would've expected to see chow mein and fried rice on so many menus?
While definitely tempting to see what the Tahitian version of Chinese food would be like, we eventually settled on some crepes, despite a strong desire to sample the French Polynesian version of ceviche, some sashimi, some delicious smelling grilled meats, or the
freshest seafood you could imagine. We rationalized that we could sample any and all of that in our next 13 nights in French Polynesia, but that crepes might be just a little harder to find.
Our dinner may not have been of the best quality, but that's somewhat beside the point - the value is beyond compare in a pricey destination such as French Polynesia, and the atmosphere is second to none. Eating at a collection of Roulottes like this is as Tahitian as it gets, and was by far the most enjoyable experience we had in Papeete, which definitely is not the prettiest of cities, in our quick blitz through here. The rest of French Polynesia will undoubtedly be far nicer to look at, and will offer the vistas we've seen in postcards - but hopefully, we'll still be able to find a Roulotte or two for a meal!
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