Tenerife is renowned for its traditional Canarian cuisine which combines Spanish recipes with African and Latin American influences. There are some mainland-imported meals, but true original tastes can only be found in the Canarian specialities. Away from the standard Spanish food and the many tourist-oriented international food restaurants in the hotels, there is a genuine local cuisine in Tenerife. However, it is much easier to find a real British pub or a branch of the known fast-food chains than a Canary ‘tipico', usually distinguished by a short menu of soups, stews and grilled fish dishes.
The basis of the typical local cuisine is a variety of fresh vegetables, fruit and fish, generally light meals, easier to digest in a warm climate. Meat usually features as part of a stew and steaks, mostly imported from Spain or South America, are often offered in restaurants catering mainly for tourists.
Still forming an essential part of the island diet is gofio, a sort of flour made from ground and toasted barley, maize and wheat. It is used to thicken soups and sauces or it is stirred into children's milk. It is also made into ice cream and a kind of bread, not unlike Polenta, mixed with oil, salt and sugar.
Also, try the Papas Arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes), one of the best-known dishes. It consists of potatoes boiled with their skin in seawater. But, their real taste comes from the mojos (sauces), usually two olive oil based sauces: the mojo picón (spicy sauce) and the mojo verde (green sauce). Not to be missed at all, is the local goat cheese (from Guía), which is invariably good.
If you like fish, you will love Tenerife! Among the most typical regional recipes are caldereta de pescado (a kind of fish soup) and ‘Sancocho Canario’, the most typical of all Canary dishes, which is a salt fish and potato stew served with papas arrugadas, gofio and mojo sauce. You will find a wide variety of international recipes of fish and seafood, too.
Among vegetarian dishes potaje de berros, a watercress soup, and sopa de garbanzas, a hotpot with chickpeas, are perhaps the best known. But make sure that there are not any pieces of bacon or pork meat in these soups, as they are often prepared like this.
The most typical dessert is bienmesabe (literally: ‘it tastes good to me’), a mixture of honey, almond cream, eggs and rum. Besides that, you have a wide choice of tropical fruits, like mangoes, avocado and papaya. Platanos fritos (fried bananas) are also in great demand. The marzipan pralines from Tejeda and the biscuits and meringues from Moya close this chapter.