What’s the most authentically Canarian food on Tenerife? It’s not goat, it’s not rabbit, it’s not bananas. It’s toasted flour called gofio; an ingredient that was beefing up the cave-dwelling locals long before the Spanish conquistadors ever set their eyes on these paradisiacal lands.
We’ve written about gofio before but if you want to go local and try some you need to know what to look for. Gofio flavoured dishes can be an acquired taste. I’ve learnt from past experience not to start gofio virgins on the hard stuff, but to ease them in.
Here’s the pathway to gofio fulfilment.
Step 1: Sweet Gofio
One of the most common places to find gofio inspired dishes is in the postre (dessert) section of menus, especially in the more modern traditional restaurants on Tenerife. Gofio’s distinctive flavour lends itself well to sweet dishes and gofio puds can be a seductive introduction. It’s served in many forms – as a mousse, ice cream or even hand made chocolates. My favourite was as gofio pie at the Mirador de Garachico.
Step 2: In Soups or Stews
Gofio is used to thicken and add flavour to traditional soups and stews. However, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been in a restaurant when a bowl of gofio was served up with the soup. Recently, on a night out with our neighbour, she ordered potaje de berros (watercress soup), then asked for gofio which was duly brought to the table along with a small bowl of onions and a few cubes of goat’s cheese. It’s another good way to try gofio, plus you get to notch up a couple of local foods in the one sitting.
Step 3: As a Drink
Don’t pay silly prices for sugar-laced power drinks, do what the locals do. A breakfast of two or three spoonfuls of gofio in a glass of milk (warm preferably) and maybe a dash of honey is enough to energise you for a morning working in the fields… or whatever you fancy doing. Canarios have known this for aeons and scientists have confirmed there are slow releasing carbohydrates in gofio which keep energy levels high; a bit like the food equivalent of a Duracell battery.
Step 4: Gofio Amasado
Now we’re heading into hardcore gofio territory; gofio amasado is a savoury mix of gofio, almonds and honey rolled into a cylinder and cut into thick disc shapes. Go to any of Tenerife’s romerias and you should find plenty of gofio amasado being freely handed out. It’s one of the freebies you can get hold off easily at these fiestas… which may tell you something about it. You can find it as a starter in traditional restaurants like El Calderita de la Abuela in Santa Ursula.
Step 5: Escaldón
Now you’re ready for the real test, escaldón. Escaldón is a thick paste made from stock (fish or meat) mixed with gofio. Posh versions have other ingredients mixed in. It’s a cheap and filling starter that might be one of the most unappealing looking dishes going. I like it, especially paired with mojo verde or mojo rojo (Canarian sauces) to liven it up a bit. Give it a go, it’s an experience at the very least.
Work your way through these steps and you’ll have enjoyed more of a traditional Canario gastronomic experience than 99.9% (a totally made up figure) of the people who visit Tenerife.
Category : food and drink
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