An important cultural facet that many visitors to Tenerife don't get to experience is the island's scrumptious cuisine. However, all it takes is just a little exploration away from the touristy resorts and fast food restaurants of the south to discover Tenerife's gastronomical treasure chest of food, wine and desserts.
Known for its freshness, its simplicity and its originality, you can attribute Tenerife's gastronomy to a three essential factors: the weather, the sea and the island's history. Tenerife's balmy climate allows for the year-round cultivation of vegetables (olives, tomatoes, chards, watercress, zucchini, green beans) and tropical fruits (oranges, bananas, mangos, papaya, avocado, guava), most of which stay right on the island and go into typical food dishes.
If you're a seafood lover, the Atlantic Ocean surrounding Tenerife yields an endless supply of the freshest seafood- parrot fish, tuna, sardin, mackerel, eel, sea bream, Canarian lobster, crab, octopus... the list is endless! Finally, the diverse mishmash of cultures - indigenous Guanche, African, European, Latin American - of Tenerife's fascinating history has yielded the creative, innovative cuisine for which Tenerife is famous.
Most traditional Tenerife food dishes are made from scratch and, while rather simple, are bursting with flavor. Take the famous "papas arrugadas," a favorite Tenerife food, for example; literally meaning "wrinkled potatoes," they are simply small potatoes cooked in salted water with their skins still on and then served with a sauce known as "mojo." Canarians are experts at combining herbs and spices - particularly saffron, paprika, oregano, basil, thyme, bay leaf and cumin - to yield flavor-packed meals with an exotic touch.
An essential part of Tenerife's food scene is, without a doubt, the hearty sauces known as "mojos." Every family and restaurant has their own special mojo recipe and within the scope of the Canary Islands' culture, it's actually so important that there are even popular songs dedicated just to mojo! Oil and vinegar compose the typical base of the flavorful "mojo," although other common ingredients include garlic, pepper, parsely, coriander, red pepper and cumin.
Depending on the mojo's ingredients and intended "spicy factor," the sauce can be red, orange or green. Green mojo - made with oil, vinegar, coriander and parsely - typically complements fish dishes, while the spicier red and orange "picón" mojos - based on oil, vinegar, pepper and hot red peppers - liven up blander dishes like potatoes, meats and certain fish.
In addition to the islands' mojos, another fundamental product to Tenerife's food dishes is what's known as "gofio canario," which goes all the way back to the island's indigenous Guanche culture in which it was their basic food element. Gofio canario is a locally produced flour created by grinding roasted sweet corn and other toasted grains. Equally delicious and nutritious, you can find gofio canario added to anything from stews and sweet blood sausages to coffees and desserts.
Typical Tenerife Food Dishes
-Cazuela de Pescado: Fresh fish casserole with potatoes, onions, tomatoes and peppers.
-Puchero Canario: Popular stew with fresh local vegetables and meats.
-Potaje de Verduras: Vegetable stew.
-Potaje de Berros: Watercress stew and a popular vegetarian pick.
-Ropa Vieja: Different meats along with potatoes and garbanzo beans.
-Sancocho canario: A popular fish dish with potatoes and yams, accompied by mojo picón and gofio canario.
-Papas arrugadas: Unpeeled potatoes cooked in salted water and served with mojo.
-Morcillas Dulces: Sweet blood sausage prepared with grapes, raisins, almonds and often with gofio canario.