Canarian cuisine

Canarian cuisine
   Although most Canary Island restaurants are devoted to the needs of international tourism, traditional cookery reflects the three-fold origin of Canarian culture. Peninsular Spanish cuisine has thrived with the arrival of package tourism, while aspects of South American cookery, like arroz a la cubana (boiled rice with fried egg, fried banana and tomato sauce), remain well established among the urban working class and returned emigrants.
   The staple of the pre-Spanish islanders was gofio, a finely-ground, roasted barley flour. In its modern form gofio is made from wheat, maize or millet, and only rarely from barley. Mixed with milk, gofio is an alternative to modern breakfast cereals. Gofio is most frequently served as a side dish, either as a powder sprinkled into broths and stews or amsado (kneaded) with milk, oil or stock into a stiff paste. In traditional Canarian cookery grilled goat meat and rabbit play a major role. In some areas, like rural La Palma, meat is almost invariably served without vegetables, despite the islands" reputation for garden crops. Fish, especially sardines, cherne (grouper), mero (dusky perch) and salmonete (red mullet), is grilled and served with mojo verde, a spicy green sauce made of peppers and garlic. The dish sancocho canario is based on salted fish. Broths are an important element in traditional cookery, particularly potaje canario, made of coarsecut vegetables with the local large-leafed watercress, and often eaten with gofio. There is a wide range of goat's cheeses, such as queso tierno (a mild, semi-soft cheese often eaten with salt and a popular tapa), queso flor de Guía (a firm, medium cheese from Guía, Gran Canaria), and cellar-cured hard cheeses from the island of El Hierro. The potato is often the only vegetable served with meat or fish. Papas arrugadas (literally "wrinkled potatoes", i.e. potatoes boiled in highly-salted water) are a popular side dish or tapa and are usually served with red mojo sauce. The introduction of sugar cane and vines in the early colonial period gave rise to a substantial drinks industry. Cane sugar is the basic ingredient of Canarian rum, now produced on a fully industrial scale in Arucas, Gran Canaria. Smaller distilleries exist on La Palma. Mixed with locally produced honey, ron miel (honey rum) makes a very sweet liqueur. Wine, of varying quality, is produced throughout the islands. White wines are generally very light, whereas reds tend to be heavy and fruity.
   Molasses, honey and almonds comprise the basis for local desserts. Bienmesabe, a syrup of honey and ground almonds, is either poured over ice cream and yoghurt or eaten on its own. The small Canarian banana, the staple local fruit, is tastier than its larger American cousin, though during the 1980s the banana industry declined and pineapples and kiwis were introduced.
   Further reading
   - Eddy, M.R. (1989) The Crafts and Traditions of the Canary Islands, Aylesbury: Shire Publications (an informative introduction to the culture of the islands).
   M. R. EDDY

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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