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Gastronomic Overview

The cuisine of the islands is a mixture of some native Guanche elements, as well as Spanish, African and Latin American foods. Historically, the islands were the first stop on Spanish soil as ships returned from the Americas, and thus they began growing and incorporating foods from the Americas into their diet, such as potatoes, beans, tomatoes, avocados, papaya, maize cocoa and tobacco. Other foods from around the globe were brought to the islands by sailors, and as a result the banana (of Asian origin) became a staple in the canarios diet, where it is served fried or made into tarts, served with rice, eggs or meat sauce. For Restaurants in Tenerife visit our Restaurant Guide

Staples of the cuisine include fish, corn and bananas. Varieties of fish include wreckfish, damselfish, dentex, sea bass, white sea bream, bogue, mackerel and parrot fish. Fish are typically prepared in three different ways - covered in salt, fried, baked, or jareado – sun-dried and seasoned (see photo).

The varieties of fish eaten on the islands, as well as the fruits and vegetables that are locally grown are not generally grown on the mainland of Spain, including a variety of banana called La Gomera, which is small and aromatic – and an important export crop. A wide variety of fruits are available including papaya, melon pear, peach, mango, avocado and pineapple are grown.

Some typical dishes of the islands are:

  • Puchero canario – a stew similar to the cocido madrileno, in that the broth of the stew is drained off and eaten as a soup for a first course, while the second course is the meat and vegetables from the stew. The difference between the stews lies in the ingredients. The puchero canario is made of pumpkin, cabbage, sweet potatoes, pork and beef.
  • Papas Arrugadas – "Wrinkled potatoes" are a popular side dish consisting of small potatoes boiled in salt water until soft, leaving the potatoes with wrinkles and with a salty crust.
  • Mojos – sauces served with potatoes, meat or fish. The two most common types are mojo picon-red pepper sauce, made from dried red peppers and mojo verde-green sauce, which can be made from coriander, cilantro or parsley.
  • Sancocho - made with parna, a type of bass, boiled with plain or sweet potatoes and served with a spicy sauce, normally "mojo picón" or "mojo verde.
  • Conejo al salmorejo – rabbit stew with tomatoes is eaten with papas arrugadas.
  • Bienmesabe – a tasty almond cream dessert made of honey, ground almonds, cinnamon and egg yolks.
  • Truchas de Navidad – Small pies with sweet potato and almond filling, traditionally eaten during Christmas and Carnival, a celebration just before Lent begins.
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