Tahitian culture has distinct characteristics, thanks to the seclusion from the influences of outside world until as late as the 1767, when Samuel Wallis became the first European who visited the island. Tahitians developed a village-based society with farming and fishing as main sources of income. Also, probably the surrounding beauty of nature, made them skillful craftsmen and artists, who decorated every objects from their fishing hooks to their canoes.
Tahitians also loved to decorate themselves. The image of lovely Tahitian women with flowers in their hair is intimately associated with the image of Tahiti as a whole. Wearing a flower also has social significance. If a woman wears a flower on the left ear, this means she is available. An interesting trivia about Tahiti is that the word tattoo was probably originated from the Tahitian word ‘tatau’ with the same meaning.
Dance set to the traditional music of drums and conch shells was the soul of Tahitian culture. Many forms of traditional dances are lost. However, the modern Tahitian dance, which retains some of the ancient flavors, is still very much popular.
Food consists of a major part in Tahitian culture. The staple food of Tahitians in ancient time used to be meat, tropical fruits, vegetables such as yam and breadfruit and seafood. With time, Tahitian cuisine was influenced by the British, French and Chinese cuisines as lot of people from these countries came and settled over here. Tahitian food today is a delightful mixture of Polynesian, French, and Chinese cuisine, though a lot of people still cook in traditional ‘ahimaa’ (earthen oven).
You must taste local delicacies such as ‘poisson cru’ (a raw fish preparation in the gravy of rich coconut milk), ‘papaya chicken’ (a delicious combo of coconut milk, papaya and chicken) and ‘Banana Poe’ (a mouth-watering dessert). Tahitian cuisine uses a lot of lemon juices, coconut milk and of course vanilla for which the island is famous. Also, if you are visiting Tahiti during the summer season, don’t forget to taste the wide variety of tropical fruits available in local markets.
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