Canary islands

A complete guide to Canarian food

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Canarian food: 10 top dishes and wines

The history of the Canary Islands is not one of gold and silver for the local population. The islands have been poor during long periods of time and water scarcity in most of the islands did not put things easier for them either. This reality has been translated into Canarian food and imagination and creativity have been crucial in shaping locals dishes and gastronomy.  

Local drinks include beer, with the most famous example in the Dorada brand. Tropical and Reina are also local good brands easy to find. The Canary islands also produce rum, a drink that illustrates the connection of the islands with trade from America, and the importance of sugar in the islands.

Local Canrfian wines need a special mention. Local wines from the islands are special. Malvasia offers its best examples in La Palma, and Lanzarote and northern Tenerife are the places where wine production is mostly present. The introduction of modern technology, earlier harvest, and fermentation temperature control have all implied an increase in the wines produced in the islands which, needless to say, profit from an amazing terroir, unique in the world of wine, with volcanic soils and vines planted underground to protect them from the strong winds in some areas. Out of the wines from all the islands, our favorites are the wines from Lanzarote.  

Table of Contents

Most typical Canarian dishes

Canarian gofio

Gofio is toasted maize and during periods of times there was not much available in the islands besides gofio! Local Canarian refer to Gofio as the bread of the Canary islands, but we could say it is used in a wider variety of dishes and with more flexibility than bread. Gofio can be found as an appetiser, as a starter, a side dish and even as a dessert. When things were really tough, gofio would have been eaten by itself, just like bread did in Europe during famines and difficult periods of history.

Gofio can be ordered at most local restaurants but some holiday hotels neglect this local dish and do not include it in their menus or self-service areas. Gofio could be considered as stodgy by some people, but it can be served in such a surprising number of ways that it would be rare for anyone to dislike them all. Gofio can be served with milk as a breakfast, or mixed with vegetables as a side dish, or as a dessert (gofio ice-cream. Mousse or gofio with mashed bananas). If you are in the Canary islands you should give it a try, at least once!

Gofio from Canary islands
Ropa vieja from Canary islands

Ropa vieja from the Canary islands

Literally this translates as “old clothes”. This dish can be found at most local restaurants but it would be rare if you find two chefs prepare it with the exact same recipe. The reason is simple, since ropa viaje is a stew which is meant to be prepared with leftovers from the previous day. Despite this is not the case at restaurants, this philosophy explains why there are hundreds of versions of this hearty stew.

Papas arrugadas

(“wrinkle potatoes”) When potatoes landed from America they brought “diversity” to the land of Gofio. Canarios embraced strongly into “potatoes culture” and created their own version with the papas arrugadas. Papas arrugadas are small in size and since they are boiled with their skin this becomes wrinkly, hence the name.

Mojo Canario

Mojo needs to be mentioned right after the papas arrugadas since it is very unlikely that you will find papas arrugadas served with no mojo. So the question follows, what is mojo? Mojo is a spicy sauce made with chilies. You will find red and green mojo. Our favorite is red mojo. When well prepared, papas arrugadas and mojo is one of the most pleasant simple dishes you can taste on earth. You will most likely find the word mojo together with “picon” which implies it is spicy.   

Canarian gastronomy in each island

In case you would like to learn more about the history of each of the islands in the Canary archipelago, their top attractions and much more, you can find plenty of information in our Canary islands guide.

Gran Canaria food

All typical Canarian dishes are present and local specliaties are mainly sweet, almond base cakes and biscis.

Fuerteventura food

If there is one thing locals from Fuerteventura have specialised in this is cheese. Queso majonero is a local smooth goat cheese that has received the award of appellation of origin (the first such case in the Canary islands) . Since goats produce cheese and goat is widely present in Fuerteventura, you can expect to enjoy some tasty goat stews in the island.

Lanzarote wines

Lanzarote offers good proof of the value of the work and determination of mankind. When a huge volcanic eruption destroyed at least one quarter of the island and left it useless for agriculture, lanzaroteños fonud a way to make the most out of the disaster and planted vines there where nobody would think wine could be produced. Volcanic local wines from Lanzarote are not just delightful, but the vineyards are so amazing that they could even be considered as a top Spanish attraction.

La Gomera food

La Gomera is mainly famous for the variety of its “miel de palma” (palma honey)and almond-based sweets and desserts. Any visitor to the island will quickly understand why Palma honey is so popular in La Gomera. Local Gomeros also prepare a very tasty goat chesse paste calle almogrote which is made from goat cheese, olive oil and garlic. Local drinks (rather strong or too sweet to our taste) are mistel sweet wine and Gomeron a liquor made using miel de palma.

Tenerife food

Tenerife is the land of Guajinches, local small restaurants located in the north of the island, full of character where you can enjoy local wines and traditional Tinerfeño food. You can find more details about the food from Tenerife in this article, where you will get to understand why Guajinches are so special.

El Hierro food

The most typical local dish are quesadillas, small pastries filled with local cheese. The island offers also excellent fresh fish and rabitt dishes.

La Palma food and wines

Even to a larger extent than La Gomera, local dishes in La Palma are about desserts. Bienmesabe cake is the most famous desser (it is a sponge made with eggs, almonds, sugar and honey). Almendrados (made with almonds) Raspaduras (made with honey, gofio, cinnamon, lemon and almonds) and with ornamental appearance. La Palma is also very famous thanks to the quality of the Malvasian wines produced locally, specially in the southern part of the island, where they also hold a volcanic taste. Last but not least, we should mention the Palmero cigars.

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