One of the best things about visiting Gran Canaria – apart from the lovely scenery and great weather – is the food, which is a delicious blend of Spanish and African flavours. Some recipes have been imported from the Spanish mainland, which you will find in many of the restaurants and hotels on the island. But if you want to try something truly Canarian, there are some good delicacies worth hunting out.
With all the fruit on display, local markets make for a colourful day out and this is where you can purchase some of the tasty locally-made products such as goats’ cheese, chorizo and honey. Ron Miel, or honey rum, is a local tipple that is solely made on Gran Canaria.
Being an island, fish is also popular. Some restaurant managers send out their own fishing boats daily to catch crab, lobsters and fish such as sea bass, sea bream and parrot fish, to be cooked and consumed that same evening. One of the most typical regional recipes is called caldo de pescado, a mixed fish broth, and vieja sancochada, a sea-bream casserole.
Head to one of the many popular and traditional Canarian restaurants to discover some of the fantastic dishes that are available. There’s the sweet and sticky dessert known as Bienmesabe, containing almonds grown on the trees in the hilly village of Tejeda. Or try the flavoursome chorizo de Teror – a sausage that can easily be eaten as you relax under the Spanish sun. A delicacy throughout the world, but with its own Canarian twist, is Carajacas. Translated it means liver and in this case is usually beef or pork.
Find out more about these and our other choices before you head out to this beautiful island.
Excite your taste buds with this main course, Sancocho Canario
This vibrant dish is made from salted cod, sweet potato and a lump of gofio. The salted fish is soaked overnight then boiled with partly peeled ‘papas’ – small boiled potatoes still in their jackets – and served with a piquant sauce such as ‘mojo verde’ or ‘mojo picon’, typical spicy green or red sauces found on the island. It’s traditionally made at Easter and Good Friday.
Gofio is a Canarian staple and widely regarded as being a well-kept health secret. It’s a dough made from barley, maize and wheat, with all of the grains traditionally roasted and ground. Given that it’s bursting with protein, fibre, minerals and vitamins, it’s also added to children’s milk, while adults can try the gofio ice cream and mus de gofio – gofio mousse.
Sticky and sweet Bienmesabe
When in Gran Canaria, you can’t leave without tasting the divine bienmesabe, which literally translated means ‘it tastes good to me’. It’s the kind of multi-purpose dessert that can be added to other puddings, such as gofio ice cream. It’s made with ground almonds, lemon rind, sugar, eggs and cinnamon.
High on the mountains lies an area called Tejeda, a local tourist hotspot, with plenty of restaurants offering incredible panoramic views. Bienmesabe originates from here, with another local speciality being marzipan praline. This area is also abundant with almond trees, which are in full bloom the first two weeks of February – an occasion marked by the Festival of the Almond Trees in Flower.
Don’t be afraid of chorizo de Teror
Chorizo de Teror is a great snack food that can be enjoyed any time of day, and can be identified by its orange colour. It’s similar to Spanish sobrasada – a flavoursome sausage from the Balearic Islands, but with a powerful garlic kick.
Chorizo de Teror’s consistency resembles a paté more than a sausage and is delicious spread on toast. It is also often served in a dish with white rum or vodka and set alight. You can purchase chorizo de Teror from corner shops and supermarkets, coming in a string of sausages about four inches long, with an individual one costing less than a euro.
Spicy Canarian snail stew
It turns out it’s not just the French who like snails. Canarians have a penchant towards this slimy creature, too. But if you can overcome any prejudice you might feel towards eating anything snail related, you’ll be in for a real treat with the local Chuchangas.
Canarian snail stew is a rich and delicious dish cooked with tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic and chorizo.
Get ready for a taste sensation with the Carajacas
Carajacas are a Canarian delicacy, and thin strips of beef or pork liver roasted or fried in a robust and spicy marinade. If you’re dining out, make sure you ask about recommended restaurants for this, as it’s best served tender. Carajacas are usually served with boiled potatoes or ‘papas’ and ‘mojo sauce’, two of the favoured side dishes of the island. Try it accompanied with a glass of wine or local rum.
Let us know what you think about the food of Gran Canaria in the comments below.