What The Locals Eat in a Tenerife Winter

Fri, December 27th, 2013 - By Linda

The Canary Islands are blessed with wonderful weather, not for nothing is Tenerife nicknamed the Island of Eternal Spring. The climate allows for the cultivation of exotic fruits like mango, papaya and the sun-loving banana. It’s rare that fishing boats can’t venture forth, so we eat lots of fresh fish, fruits and veggies. You may wonder when we eat the dishes seen on menus in Canarian bars and restaurants, things like soups and stews, which are cold weather foods.

 

Goat meat stew

 

The answer to that is, unsurprisingly, winter. Whilst sunseekers lounge on the beaches of Los Cristianos or Puerto de la Cruz, up in the mountains temperatures can drop to below zero. Not to mention that, even in Playa de las Americas you may be unlucky to get an odd spell of rainy weather, though it won’t be cold, at least not cold as you know it!

Frankly, native-born Canarians don’t wait for cooler weather to get stuck into a yummy stew like ropa vieja, puchero or, my favourite, a tasty goat stew, but I do. Ropa vieja, which translates as old clothes, is impossible to define, originating from the use of leftovers. The only constant ingredients are meat and chickpeas, after that a variety of ingredients may be added, according to the family recipe. Puchero can contain any type of meat, and variety of vegetables. Both are on tapa menus from Los Gigantes to El Médano, but for goat stew you need to turn inland. The best ones are cooked so slowly that the meat almost melts in the mouth, and are just slightly spicy.

 

Costilla y piñas

 

One winter a few years back, descending from the compulsory visit to the snowy heights of the Teide National Park, in the direction of La Laguna, a friend introduced me to the delights of Costillas & Piñas, which I think of as “Ribs, Canarian-style,” but the only resemblance to American ribs is that it’s more-or-less the same cut of meat. These ribs are slow-cooked, so that the juice runs down your chin when you eat and are served on a gigantic bed of boiled potatoes and corn-on-the-cob (the piñas). I defy anyone to finish a dish of these!

 

Escaldón

 

Of course, truthfully, that particular dining experience may have been spoiled by the vast quantity of escaldón consumed first. Escaldón is a very Canarian dish, a thick paste made with traditional gofio, every eatery has its own version. In the case above, the bar added pork. It was delicious and certainly thawed out my toes. Vegetarians may prefer a scalding hot, bubbly goat’s cheese, served with mojo.

 

Grilled goat's cheese

 

Another dish that varies from place to place is potaje, normally a thick, vegetable soup. Sometimes, it’s chock full of potatoes and all manner of veggies, other times it can be more like a broth, with a few vegetables thrown in for garnish. It’s an idea to ask how it comes when you order to avoid disappointment, depending on your taste. Either way, it’s always tasty and warming.

For me, winter is the best time to enjoy those traditional papas arrugadas with a spicy, red mojo. In summer I prefer the milder, coriander-based, green mojos, but in winter the peppery, version really comes into its own.

So turn a bit of negative weather into a positive and discover new dishes to make your holiday more memorable!

Posted : Friday, December 27th, 2013 at 11:29 am
Category : food and drink
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