Beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, that’s what most of us think of when we think of the Canary Islands. However, there is a strong history of delicious cuisine on the islands also. Furthermore, the unique history and geography of the islands have resulted in a culinary tradition that is both diverse and flavourful. With that in mind, here are the top 7 foods and desserts native to the Canary Islands that you should definitely try during your next visit.
Fun fact: the Canary Islands have a total of seven Michelin-starred restaurants. Not bad!
Best traditional foods in the Canary Islands – Papas Arrugadas
Papas arrugadas, or “wrinkled potatoes,” are a staple of Canarian cuisine. This dish is made by boiling small, salted potatoes in their skins until tender and wrinkled. A spicy sauce called mojo, often accompanies the potatoes, and it comes in two varieties: mojo rojo (red) and mojo verde (green). More specifically, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and hot peppers combine to make mojo, which adds a delicious kick to the dish.
Gofio is a traditional Canarian flour made from roasted grains, such as wheat or maize. It has been a staple of the Canarian diet for centuries and is used in various dishes, from bread to desserts. Gofio can be eaten as a porridge or mixed with water and honey to make a sweet treat. It is also used to thicken stews and soups.
Conejo en Salmorejo
Conejo en salmorejo is a hearty rabbit stew that is a favorite on the islands. The rabbit is marinated in a mixture of garlic, vinegar, paprika, and other spices before being simmered in a tomato-based sauce. The result is a flavorful and tender meat that is perfect for a cool evening.
Best traditional foods in the Canary Islands – Ropa Vieja
Ropa vieja, which translates to “old clothes,” is a dish that has its origins in the Spanish colonies of the Caribbean. It is made by simmering shredded beef in a tomato-based sauce with onions, peppers, and other vegetables. The result is a savory and satisfying stew that is often served with rice and beans.
Quesadillas El Hierro
Quesadillas are a popular dessert in the Canary Islands, with cheese from El Hierro as the main ingredient. Traditionally, they are baked in a wood-fired oven, and with a characteristic flower-like shape. Specifically, the cakes are made of crumbled cheese and then mixed with eggs, flour, sugar, anise, lemon, and cinnamon. Afterward, this filling is spread over a layer of pastry. It is one of the iconic foods of the island of El Hierro and a foodie experience that you shouldn’t miss.
Principe Alberto (Prince Albert)
One of the most famous desserts in the Canary Islands, it was created by legendary chef Matilde Arroyo. Specifically, she is the leading pastry chef on the island of La Palma. The dessert itself is essentially a chocolate mousse, mixed with chopped almonds and hazelnuts, as well as cake bits soaked in coffee. Some say it got its name from the time Prince Albert (yes, the one of Monaco) visited the islands. Another version says that Arroyo thought the dessert was as delectable as the Prince himself (when he was younger).
Bienmesabe is a dessert that is popular throughout the Canary Islands. It is another of the great Matilde Arroyo’s pastry creations. The name translates to “tastes good to me,” and it certainly lives up to its name. It is made from ground almonds, sugar, egg yolks, and lemon zest, which are cooked together to form a creamy, custard-like mixture. It is typically served cold and is a refreshing end to any meal.
Summing things up – The best traditional foods in the Canary Islands
In conclusion, the cuisine of the Canary Islands is a reflection of the islands’ unique history and geography. From papas arrugadas to bienmesabe, the dishes of the Canarian table are sure to satisfy any food lover’s palate. We have listed just 7 of many different Canarian foods and desserts that are sure to leave you satisfied after breakfast, lunch, or dinner. But there are many others too! So, make sure to check them out on your next visit to the Canary Islands.