Whether you are in Tenerife, in Gran Canaria or in any other part of the archipelago, you cannot leave the islands without enjoying the Canary Islands food. With African and tropical influences, Canarian gastronomy is one of the most special kinds that exist.
The funny thing is that due to the fragmentation of the territory into 8 islands, each of them has differences in the recipe. Among them, some produce more of one ingredient than another, and it shows. The final product has been enriched due to the cultural contribution throughout history. In principle there is a heritage from the Guanches and an influence of Latin American gastronomy, especially the Venezuelan one. Naturally, being close to the African continent, it is normal that it has had an influence and this is seen in certain dishes that are similar.
Origins of Canary Islands food
It is thought that the Canarian aborigine followed nomads from Berber people who moved from North Africa with their herds and crops. With them, they brought a diet that was based on:
- Gofio: Roasted barley flour, can be obtained from millet or wheat etc. This was mixed with water, kneading it until obtaining a paste known as gofio amasado (kneaded gofio).
- Meat: The meat of herds of goats and sheep and the black pig. These Berber are from the pre-Islamic era, and therefore they did eat pork.
- Others: Dates, Milk, butter, shellfish
The sporadic visit of Romans to the Canary Islands brought figs and olives.
After the conquest of the Islands by the Kingdom of Spain, it brought with it a massive arrival of merchants who introduced many things from the new and old worlds. Imagine, the Canary Islands were an essential stopover before making the trip to America or Europe, and sailors had to eat. Nothing better than bringing something new from America or Asia and reselling it where there is a good trade. The most important contribution of this period was the potato and the corn. (named millo in the canary islands of the Portuguese milho)
Canarian Food Menu
We are going to divide Canarian food into starters, first courses and fish, meats and desserts. Although this distinction is made, it does not mean that you cannot mix or only eat the entrées. In the Canary Islands there are tapas, where small plates of various starters are served.
Canary Tapas – Starters
Goat cheese (Queso de Cabra) is the most common. And recently, many Canarian cheeses have won awards worldwide and have their own designation of origin. Those made from flower rennet and those from raw milk matured in paprika stand out.
Canarian Chorizo – The best known, the chorizo de Teror, these come in the form of a smooth paste, usually orange or reddish if paprika has been added. It is spread on a bread, preferably egg bread or Matalahúva type bread.
Gofio: Roasted and ground barley. There are several ways to serve it, if it is mixed with water, it is kneaded and served in a pellet(Pella), if it is mixed with some broth it is blanched gofio (Gofio Escaldado). The blanched gofio is garnished with onion in the shape of a crib to use as a utensil and mojo, a delicacy!
Morcilla Dulce Canaria: Blood sausage is made with pig’s blood. It tastes sweet because sweet potatoes, raisins, and almonds are added to the recipe.
Canarian roast leg (Pata asada): A fairly simple recipe where the pig’s leg is seasoned and roasted. It is then sliced and usually served in a sandwich.
Seafood: It is obvious that having the sea nearby, you eat a lot of fish. Among them, some dishes that are more abundant than others. From anchovies in sauce, grilled octopus or vinaigrette and limpets with mojo sauce! All delicious.
Stews (Potajes): The most typical and traditional way of consuming vegetables. The Canarian diet includes a large amount of vegetables which are consumed in stews. Watercress stew being the most popular.
Broths (Caldos): There is the potato broth, as there has always been poverty, this broth has been easy, good and cheap to prepare. There is also the fish broth with fish from the Canary Islands such as grouper, sama or cherne. Millet or wheat broths are popular too.
Rancho Canario: A recipe made with chickpeas, noodles, potatoes and meat. A true country mix.
Fishes of Canary Islands
Its the Canary Islands, of course you eat fish. Among the Canarian waters, some fish are the vieja, the cherne, the corvina, the salema, the sama etc. The fish, the lesser the dish is prepared, the better you’ll savor the sea. It is usually served in the oven, with salt, marinated in sauces, etc.
Sancocho Canario: It is a dish based of salted or boiled fish that is served with potatoes, sweet potato, gofio and mojo.
Meats of Canary Islands
Almost all types of meat are usually consumed, although traditionally dishes based on pork, chicken, rabbit and goat are abundant.
Puchero Canario: A stew of meat with corn on cob, sweet potato, potatoes, legumes and vegetables.
Rabbit: It is usually prepared in a marinated sauce, the dish is called salmorejo rabbit.
Pig and goat meat: both widely used in Canarian cuisine. In addition to being used in soups and / or stews, it is usually eaten roasted, fried or grilled. The most common dish is carne fiesta, meat and potatoes and nothing else.
Desserts of the Canary Islands
The best Canarian desserts! at least the ones that I have tried. As the entire kitchen is geared towards working in the fields and eating to regain strength, desserts are already the bomb.
Bienmesabe: Sugar, almonds and egg – well mixed, it creates a dense paste that when served on a homemade flan, is to die for.
Canarian Frangollo: Made with milk, corn flour, lemon, eggs, sugar, butter, raisins, almonds and cinnamon. There are many variations, for example replacing milk with water or adding anise.
Truchas: A very traditional recipe for Christmas in the Canary Islands. It is a dumpling filled with sweet potato, almonds, sugar, cinnamon, lemon, anise.
Roasted Milk (Leche asada): Influenced by South America. Similar to flan in that it is made with the same ingredients, but the roasted milk has a less smooth texture and is baked directly, creating a toasty layer on the surface.
Quesadilla: typical and artisan cake made with eggs, flour, sugar, lemon and cinnamon.
Canary Islands dishes
The truth is that there are many more dishes, the ones above are the most traditional. Below I leave you photos with a description of those that are also usually eaten and are 100% from the Canaries!
Have you tried some of these dishes? How do they resemble the dishes in your area? Leave me a comment!