Food in Tenerife
Eating out in Tenerife is a fabulous culinary experience, and settling down to a fine meal, accompanied by local wine is a pleasure. Tenerife restaurants offer a rich and diverse array of food to suit all tastes and budgets. You can choose from almost every style of cuisine from around the world, from Japanese Sushi or Moroccan, to Thai or Mexican. There are also many restaurants specialising in different regional cuisines from mainland Spain. With hundreds of restaurants all over the island the choice is amazing, from the good old English breakfast complete with toast and marmalade to one of the many superb dishes based on the fish so abundant along the coasts. But, of course the local gastronomy is not to be missed, relying on fresh local produce of the highest standard.
With warm sea currents and a sub tropical climate, food in Tenerife has wonderful ingredients: fresh fruit and vegetables and the fish caught in the coastal waters. The island’s most important product, after tourism, is the dwarf banana, brought to the Canaries in the mid nineteenth century from Asia. The fruit is smaller, sweeter, and has a more intense flavour than the varieties produced in Latin America and the Caribbean. Exotic fruits abound, such as avocado, mango, papaya, kiwi, passion fruit and pineapple. Many have found their way into the local cuisine and with such quality ingedients, even the most simple dish bursts with flavour. Local tomatoes are so juicy that they are sweet, and the island’s unfamiliar vegetables will tempt your palette with new tastes.
Local cuisine fuses these fresh ingredients, many of which were brough over from the Americas in the early years of colonisation. But local people, who trace their origins back to both sides of the Atlantic, have also contributed to the melting pot, and menus are filled with mouth watering alternatives.
Canary Islands cuisine reflects Spanish, Portuguese, and North African influence as well as its role as a staging post to the Americas. Puchero Canario is a filling stew made from pumpkin, cabbage, sweet potatoes, pork and beef. The stock is drained off and eaten as a starter, followed by a main course of meat and vegetables. One of the most famous local dishes is papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes). This is made by boiling potatoes in salted water. The potatoes are then drained and returned to the pan, leaving a layer of encrusted salt when the water evaporates. Papas arrugadas are often served as an accompaniment to other dishes. Another popular accompaniment is mojo, the local sauce. The most common types are mojo picon, made from peppers and chillies and mojo verde, made with coriander.
Before the arrival of the Conquistadores the indiginous ‘guanches’, lived on a staple diet known as gofio. Gofio is made by grinding toasted cereals and then kneading them with water. It can be eaten either hot or cold, and is still used today as the basis for many local dishes. Gofio is used in soups, in savoury dishes like gofio with tomato and for deserts such as gofio with honey and almonds.
Bountiful fresh fish is a signature of Tenerife’s cuisine. During the winter, tuna migrate to the warm local waters, joining sea bass, swordfish, octopus, parrot fish, moray eels and a host of others for which names in English do not even exist! . Shelfish too, thrive in these warm waters. Crabs, clams, mussels, cockles and many more which find their way onto the Canarian table.
Perhaps the most popular way to eat food in Tenerife is by stopping off at one of the many Tapas restaurants. Tapas are small dishes, which give you the chance to try a a selection of tastes by ordering several to make up a full meal. There is a huge range to choose from and you can try many of the Canarian specialties in this miniature format as well.
For those with a sweet tooth, there are all sorts of dishes to choose from, many based on almonds which are harvested every year in Tenerife. From cakes to cookies, almonds are a key ingredient and one of the best known dishes is bienmesabe, made with egg yolk and cinnamon, which translates literally as tastes good to me.