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» 27 Dec 2016

The square shape and rustic texture of this artisanal biscuit is well known by many Mauritians who remain faithful to traditional values and those who still seek for authentic Mauritian products.
The “Biscuit Manioc” is a 100 % Mauritian delicacy produced since 1870, more than 145 years ago by the “Biscuiterie H. Rault”. Its secret family recipe was developed by Hilarion Rault, the son of a migrant, to replicate a Briton specialty called “Sable Breton” and it is a strange coincidence that this unique biscuit factory using pure manioc flour is situated in MAHEBOURG named after Mahé de Labourdonnais who was the governor who introduced manioc in Mauritius.
Thérèse Sénèque (Born Rault) was the last sole owner of the famous factory which owes its survival to her unfailing belief that her inheritance should not be allowed to disappear despite all the hardship she had to endure to keep the traditional factory ongoing. With the help of her nine children, she struggled through difficult years where cyclone, fire or simply lack of raw materials took their turn at her battling spirit. Thérèse had gained the respect and love of those around her through her nerves in challenging times and it is that spirit which she has conveyed until her last day in her beloved factory at the age of 99 and a half.
The factory has always given employment priority to the people of the region, and although we are far from the hundred of employees working during the world war, most of the 25 workers actually live close to the factory. It is also a common fact that people of the same family or even descendants of previous workers will seek employment either in the factory itself or in the yard or fields and even as household workers in the homes of family members surrounding the “biscuiterie”.
Now owned by the children of Thérèse, the Sénèque/Rault family, this ancient biscuit factory, situated on the family property called “Les Délices”, has kept the same internal archaic look and processes to manufacture this typical biscuit. Most of the manioc used is grown in the

 fields around the family premises and the old fashioned factory where the tuber will be transformed into the final products wrapped in their typical multi-layered packing. Seven colourful biscuits packs corresponding to their particular flavour will then find their way to our boutiques or supermarkets before ending on our tables at tea time.
Many years ago, the plain variety of the biscuits were stored in jars in small boutiques around the corner and sold individually; this was a time where the goodness and natural properties of this local product was well known and sought for its nutritional properties.
The “fabrique”, as it is familiarly called amongst family members, has always been a small artisanal business which has been at its peak popularity during the 1st world war when the biscuits manioc almost became staple food to compensate for lack of wheat flour and rice.
In order to ensure its survival as a whole, Thérèse was wise enough to follow the advice of several eminent businessmen and family friends and members and in 2008, at the age of 96, she incorporated the biscuit factory into a company: H. Rault Co Ltd and later in 2011 the whole property was included in the company.
The company has been able to keep an upward trend despite the worldwide economic crisis and the property now offers more and more of a natural discovery trip instead of a simple artisanal factory visit. The tour will thus feature some unexpected discoveries in the yard: like the ancient well with a surprising story and the rare hydraulic ram still in operation for watering purposes and the gigantic 100 years old Badam-tree (Indian Almond tree – Terminalia Cattapa).
The notorious traditional “biscuiterie” is opened for visits and tasting from 9.00 a.m to 15.00 p.m during weekdays and from 9h00 to 12h00 on Saturdays (No biscuits production) but is closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.
The typical granular specialties are manufactured without addition of any preservatives, colouring or any chemicals, furthermore it is rich in fibre and is GLUTEN FREE. They come in : Butter, Coconut, Milk, Chocolate, Vanilla, Cinnamon and Star Anis Seed for the biscuits and a less known but much appreciated delicacy named Galettes uniquely sold in MAHEBOURG have 4 varieties, namely : Grilled Sesame Seeds, Grounded Coconut, powdered Cinnamon and grounded Star Anis Seed.

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