Spanish food  -  Canary Islands Food
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Spanish food  -  Canary Islands

Spanish food - Canary Islands

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The location of the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa and the warm sea currents give the islands a sub tropical climate. Both the fruit and vegetables that are cultivated, and the fish caught in the coastal waters of the Canary Islands are found nowhere else in Spain. The islands most important product, after tourism, is the banana. Away from the beaches, the landscape is dominated by extensive banana plantations. The variety grown in the canaries is the dwarf banana, brought to the Canaries in the mid nineteenth century from Asia. The fruit is smaller, sweeter, and has a more intense flavour than the varieties produced in Latin America and the Caribbean. The banana plant fruits only once, but a cluster of fruit can weigh up to 40 kilograms. High production costs in the Canaries means that the local produce struggles to compete with imports from the Americas. If the European Union is forced to remove protective tariffs, large scale banana production may disappear within decades. In recent years local farmers have however begun to diversify into other crops. These include the exotic fruits avocado, mango, papaya, kiwi, passionfriut and pineapple. Many have found their way into the local cuisine such as stuffed avocados or the use of papaya in salads. A permanently warm climate means that other crops like tomatoes can supply the European market during the winter months. Vegetables also abound, and the Canary Islands is where many of the newly discovered crops from the Americas were first planted in Europe. Aside from the produce found on the mainland, sugar cane is cultivated, and exotic vegetables like chayote, a pear shaped vegetable that tastes like a marrow is grown.

Mojo verde

Canary Islands cuisine reflects Spanish, Portuguese, and North African influence as well as its role as a staging post to the Americas. Puchero canario is a hearty stew made from pumpkin, cabbage, sweet potatoes, pork and beef. Similar to the well known cocido madrilleno, the broth is drained off and eaten as a first course, followed by a second course of meat and vegetables. One of the most simple local dishes is papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes). This is made by boiling potatoes in salted water until tender. The potatoes are drained off and returned to the pan to leave a layer of salt when the water evaporates. Papas arrugadas are often served as an accompaniment to other dishes. Another popular accompaniment is mojo, the local sauce. The most common types are mojo picon, made from peppers and chilies and mojo verde, made with coriander.


Prior to the arrival of European settlers in the fourteenth century, the native inhabitants, known as guanches, lived on a staple diet known as gofio. Gofio is made by grinding down toasted cereals which is then kneaded with water. It can be eaten either hot or cold, and is still used today as the basis for many local dishes. Gofio is used in soups, in savory dishes like gofio with tomato and for deserts such as gofio with honey and almonds. The ever changing currents in the coastal waters ensure a varied and bountiful supply of fresh fish. During the winter months the tuna migrate to the warm currents of the Canary Islands. Sea bass, swordfish, octopus are found as well as exotic species like parrot fish, alfonsino and the ferocious looking moray. Limpets, a mollusc found clinging to rocks, is a local delicacy often served with mojo. Pejines, small fish dried in the sun, and then grilled, is a popular tapa. Most fish is cooked pan fried (a la plancha) and served


The busiest time for tourism in the Canary Islands is in December and January, and a traditional Christmas treat is truchas de navidad a sweet potato filled fried pastry. Almond groves are abundant in La Palma, and is where almendrados, a almond based cookie is made. Almonds are also the base for the popular puree, bienmesabe, made with egg yolk and cinnamon, which translates literally as tastes good to me. Majorero is a quality goat cheese made in Fuerteventura and goat cheese is also found in La Palma (queso Palmero) and El Hierro (queso Herreno). Sugar cane is cultivated in La Gomera and is used in the production of high quality rum, both white and barrel aged dark rum, and for the desert miel de cana, a popular palm syrup.

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Ajo Blanco (White Garlic Soup)
Spanish recipes Ajo Blanco (White Garlic Soup)
Spanish food recipes  Ajo Blanco (White Garlic Soup)
Spanish food - Ajo Blanco (White Garlic Soup)