There are few places in the world where you can eat as well and as healthily as on Tenerife. On the forums that I use there are generally two types of people those who want to find traditional Canarian restaurants and those who want to avoid them like the plague. Yet Canarian food is not the least bit exotic, not overly spicy but what does define it is the simplicity of the ingredients and their preparation.
Tenerife has an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, oranges, pineapples, figs, mangos and of course, bananas and tomatoes. I buy mine mainly from the local farmers’ market where the best home-grown produce is sold. There are plenty of markets on the Island so you should find one close to where you are staying.
Since adding a recipe that I regular use to the blog and seeing the response, I thought I would pass on a few really easy and quick recipes using typical Canarian ingredients some I make myself, others are well-known dishes in cafes and restaurants.
So starting at the beginning probably the best-known fruit is the banana. The Canarian banana is unmistakable; it is small, yellow and has black spots, which distinguish it from other varieties. What’s more, the taste is simply delicious. According to experts, the bananas grown on Tenerife are classified as some of the best in the world. The locals like to eat their bananas fresh but they are just as good cooked.
Banana Crumb Muffins - The crumb topping is what makes these banana muffins stand apart from the rest…..
The tomato was brought to the island by the English in the early 19th Century and became a staple of Tenerife’s agriculture and a main contributor to the economy. The Canarian tomato is fragrant, juicy, very red and a typical round shape, it has a sweet flavour, which is delicious. Tenerife devotes large amounts of land in the south of the island to growing tomatoes and it is a key ingredient in the food here. Raw, fried, cooked or in a sauce the Canarian tomato is part of many different recipes.
Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil Good bread, good olive oil – what more could you….
The Canarian however, does not exist on bananas and tomatoes alone. On Tenerife, many other fruits and vegetables are cultivated which are also of high quality and have an important role to play in the islands’ cuisine.
The potato is to Canarian cooking what Mount Teide is to Tenerife. You can find varieties such as “papas bonitas” (pretty potatoes) and “papas Quineguas or Chineguas” (King Edward potatoes). One of the most popular high quality varieties is the “papa negra” (black potato) with a yellow centre and one of the best ways of preparing it is “arrugándola”.
The Canarian potato, originally from South America, is completely different from the ones eaten on mainland Spain. It is small, round and very tasty, which is why it is commonly used in traditional cooking. It accompanies most dishes, as well as being eaten on its own, as in, “papas arrugadas con mojo,” which, are “wrinkled” potatoes served with a traditional sauce.
Papas Arrugadas or Wrinkled Potatoes One of the best-known Canarian dishes. You can’t leave the island without having tried them!
Just like other islands and coastal areas, Tenerife feeds itself from the sea. In practically all the coastal villages, fish is sold from stalls set up in the port. A paradise for lovers of fresh fish. The varieties that are most popular are vieja (sea bream), sardine, la caballa (mackerel), atún (tuna), cherne (grouper) and chocos (cuttlefish).
Cooking fish on the Island is anything but sophisticated; as a result, it is usually eaten either boiled or fried. Of all the species caught, the most valued for its exquisite taste is the “vieja” which is boiled and served simply with “mojo” (a traditional sauce made from red pepper or coriander) and “papas arrugadas”. One of the favourite ways is as a fish stew.
Canarian Fish Casserole One of the great seafood stews
Rabbit cooked in a tasty sauce and pork are popular meats used in traditional Tenerife cuisine. Pork is the main ingredient in “carne de fiesta” (party meat). This is a dish made from small fried chunks of pork that have been dipped in oil and herbs and is extremely popular at “romerias” and local fiestas. Goat’s meat also has a special place in the traditional foods of Tenerife as does “puchero canario” (Canarian stew) made from beef, pork, chickpeas and other vegetables. Many restaurants, some on the “meat route” in the north and inland in the south of the island, offer wide-ranging menus, which delight the hundreds of visitors who come here.
Rabbit in Salmorejo Sauce One of the most well known and traditional dishes of Canarian gastronomy……
Tenerife produces high quality cheeses, they are considered a real part of Canarian gastronomy and there are different farmhouse cheeses made according to the traditions and methods in each area or county, although under strict controls and regulations. Many cheeses have won prizes in the most prestigious competitions around the world.
The most commonly eaten cheese is “fresco” (fresh), just a few days old. It has a light, pleasant taste, slightly salty. There are also “fresh” cheeses, which are smoked, which gives them a unique character and a longer shelf life. Cheese accompanies a range of dishes, especially fruit such as grapes, figs etc. The recipe most commonly used is “queso asado” (fried cheese) or “queso a la plancha”(grilled cheese), where it is usually accompanied by a sauce or jam.
Queso Frito – (Fried Cheese) - is a snack or starter eaten hot …
The red or green mojo sauces give the final touch to every recipe. The green mojos are based on either coriander or parsley and are ideal for fish and vegetable dishes. The red mojos are made with peppers and are ideal for meats and cheeses and you won’t find a restaurant in Tenerife that does not have them on its tables.
The Mojos ….
Chestnuts are almost everywhere especially in the north of the island, where 20 different varieties are grown. Once autumn arrives, it is easy to come across sellers and their stands filling the streets with the sweet smell of roasted chestnuts. However, it is during the celebration of San Andres that chestnuts play an important role. On the 29th November, the wine cellars in Tenerife open their doors to taste the new wine that is always accompanied with chestnuts.
Tenerife has over 500 beekeepers, a job generally passed down from generation to generation. Many of the honeys that are made are unique and use a host of exotic flowers or endemic plants such as the tajinaste or Mount Teide broom that provide a wide choice of tastes to appeal to the most discerning palates. In the north of the island there is the House of Honey Museum where you can see demonstrations, secrets of bees and the preparation process of Tenerife.
Torrijas (Bread Pudding) Enjoy particularly at Easter time.
You only have to look at the dessert menus available on the island to realise that the people of Tenerife have a sweet tooth. The tradition of dessert-making comes from the old sugar-refineries and farms on which sugar cane was grown and processed.
For those who love sweets some of the most famous cake shops on the Island, such as Aderno, in Buenavista del Norte or in Santa Cruz, which create an amazing array of desserts, using local produce are well worth a visit.