Discover our culture through the kitchen. When you come to Tenerife don’t leave without enjoying the best of the Canarian gastronomy.
The island’s gastronomy is one of the less known aspects of our culture, specially for the visitors. Nevertheless, it is of great interest and it can be a nice surprise for those who decide to escape, during their holidays, their everyday diet or the proposals from the international cuisine restaurants.
The canarian food is extremely simple, but it also posses great wisdom and is full of authentic tastes. The weather – and the different micro climates – as well as the use of nearby products are the brand of the traditional dishes from the Island’s gastronomy.
Know the Best of Canarian Gastronomy:
The fish from this area is of an exquisite taste and it is usually just cooked or boiled, seasoned with oil, vinegar and spicy pepper, or accompanied by the famous “mojo”. The fish par excellence and the most appreciated one by the islanders themselves is the “vieja”. It has a very delicate and white meat, but we also recommend, among others, the “Bocinegro”, the “Sama” and the “Salema”. Different kinds of tunas are very common in the Islands’ seas, they are very tasty and are often served fried, grilled or pickled; the mackerel, the sardine, and specially the “chicharros” that give name to the inhabitants of the capital of the island, and by extension to the inhabitants of the whole Island of Tenerife. The people of Tenerife are known as “chicharreros”. There is a sea animal that must be tasted: the moray eel, fried and crunchy, it was the favorite dish of the roman emperors, and it has been incomprehensibly forgotten by the big contemporary chefs. In the more humid and fresh areas of the island, you can enjoy a fish casserole – of “cherne” or grouper – accompanied by a dish called “escaldón de gofio”: a type of toasted corn flour that is mixed with the stew broth.
In the chapter of meat we will highlight a dish called “carne fiesta” or festive meat, made of marinated pork dices. Its name comes from the costume to eat it during different popular festivities, and its served in bars and street stalls during the open-air dances and the different town celebrations. You should also try the young goat, or “cabrito”, in its different presentations, and the “salmorejo” rabbit, that like most of the fish courses is accompanied by salted potatoes, known as “papas arrugadas”. This is a peculiar way of cooking the potatoes without being peeled and with a lot of salt, that makes them to keep all their taste. There are a lot of potato varieties with a quality that is hard to compare with those from other latitudes. They come in different sizes, textures, and colors, although the more appreciated ones are those called “bonitas” or pretties, and above all those that are black on the outside, medium size, and yellow on the inside, with a creamy texture as they are very tasty.
The soft cheeses, made of goat’s milk, are usually presented as a first dish before the main course. The canarian cheeses are regaining their prestige, and in the last dairy products international expositions, they have received important awards. Tenerife’s cheese, in the past and up until the mid twentieth century when there were important amounts of cattle, could have different proportions of milk from cows, goats, and sheep. Nowadays, the goat’s cheese is predominant; it can be exclusively made of goat’s milk, or can have an addition of sheep’s milk that with its fat adds more creaminess to the cheese; in some cases they also have some cow’s milk. Although in some cases they can be cured, and even smoked, they are usually eaten fresh, as they have a nice and soft taste, which gives them a very different personality from other goat cheeses of Europe.
“Mojo” is a word that probably comes from the Portuguese, and it is the canarian name for the typical sauces. Not all of them are called mojos, just those that are really characteristic from the Islands, being one of the best parts of the canarian gastronomy. The most known mojos are the coriander, also known as green, although the real green one is the one made of parsley, the red one with a lot of paprika, and the “mojo picón” with a pepper base, but the variety is wider and it includes preparations with saffron, cheese and almonds, among other possibilities.
The Canarian “gofio” is made of different cereal grains that, once they have been toasted and grounded, become a very fine whole-texture flour. In Tenerife the most common type is the one made of wheat, although you can also find the one made of corn, in some rare occasions one made of chickpeas, and there is also one that mixes wheat and corn. The Gofio was the main food in times of the Guanches, the aborigines of Tenerife in prehispanic times, who used stone mills to produce it. Nowadays it is used as a complement of different dishes and it is even being used in the creation of new desserts and ice-creams with great success. It was a fundamental resource, becoming the center of the canarian cuisine in times of food shortage, and it was taken to America by the canarian emigrants. In 1990 the “Associations of Gofio producers of the Canary Islands” was created and it has achieved that this food, positively valued, received the specific appellation of “Gofio Canario”.