Tuck in to tasty treats while on holiday in the Canary Islands, which offer some lip-smacking cuisine guaranteed to get you wanting seconds...
The gastronomy of Lanzarote, and all of the Canaries, has some of its roots in Spanish cooking as well as being influenced by African and Latin American recipes. In addition, there are some traditions left over from the aboriginal people of the island. One thing is for sure though; you will enjoy the array of delicious dishes served up in restaurants or in the comfort of your hotel.
Spain-Lanzarote has put together a guide to some of the Canarian choices to give you an idea of what delights you may want to sample during your stay.
Let’s start with the Spanish influences of tapas. These small portions are served all over Lanzarote and vary depending on where you eat. Some traditional tapas dishes include pimientos de padrón, which are little green peppers cooked in sea salt and olive oil. You will be served many on a plate and every now and then find a spicy pepper! They are often on the menu as a starter. Other dishes served are meatballs (albóndigas) in tomato sauce and tortilla (Spanish omelette). There are literally dozens of different tapas recipes.
Canarians are big on their stews, putting much love and care into creating an appetising pot of spiced meat and vegetables. Look out for rabbit stew (conejo), which is a local delicacy. You will seldom see cattle around Lanzarote, mainly due to the landscape, so most meat is imported from South America and other islands of the archipelago. Of course prime cuts of meat are always on any decent restaurant’s menu. Cabrito (meat from kid goats) is a big favourite and is sometimes called baifo in the Canary Islands.
Wow! If you like fish, you will love Lanzarote. Being an island, the fish and seafood supplies are never ending. This is big business in the Canaries with fishing boats trawling the ocean daily to keep up with demand for tasty morsels. Tuna (atún), sea bass (lubina), hake (merluza), swordfish (pez espada), crab (cangrejo), lobster (langosta), mussels (mejillones)... you name it!
A local fish specialty is a type of stew (sancocho) made with salted seabream. Another traditional one is vieja (old lady), parrotfish cooked with its scales in oil and vinegar.
Vegetables and fruit
Lanzarote is blessed with a superb climate all year round so this helps farmers grow an abundance of fruit. You will see agricultural markets all over the island. They are vibrant and colourful places to pick up locally-grown fruit and vegetables.
A truly Canarian experience is trying papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes) which are cooked in salt with their skins left on. They will often be served with mojos (sauces), which you can dip the potatoes in for extra flavour... delicious! Usually, you will get two types of sauces; mojo picón, a red one which is hot and made with chilli and mojo verde, a green one which is mild and made using herbs.
When in Lanzarote you must try the local goat’s cheese. It’s sold in supermarkets and will appear on most menus in some way, often fried or served with an accompaniment like olives or a tasty honey sauce.
Another big speciality of the Canaries is called gofio, a type of flour made with toasted maize, wheat and barley. It is an important part of the diet here and is added to various foods including ice-cream, a kind of bread that is similar to polenta and children’s milk as well as thickening soups and sauces. Gofio was used in Guanche times and was thought to be one of the staple foods of their diet.
The traditional preparation of gofio has been passed on for centuries from generation to generation, making this healthy cereal mixture the second most consumed food product throughout the archipelago, coming right after the bananas!
Some people think dessert is the best part of any meal – if you are among them, then look out for bienmesabe, a sugary combination of honey, almond cream, eggs and rum.
You can also try the traditional frangollo (a corn-based milk pudding flavoured with cinnamon, honey and brandy) or torrijas (sweet fritters of maize flour flavoured with honey and cinnamon). It is custom to eat them at Easter but they are available all year round. More choices on the dessert menus include crème caramel (flan), ice cream (helado) and fried bananas (plátano frito) with a topping made of sugar, brandy and lemon juice.
The wine produced from grapes cultivated on volcanic grounds is one of the best surprises the island has to offer when it comes to complementing a nice meal. The most appreciated are the Malvasías, a generally strong wine, which can reach strengths up to 17 per cent, similar to a Sherry. Wine is also used for the very popular local drinks tinto de verano (literally ‘summer red wine’ consisting of red wine mixed with lemonade), and Sangría (on Lanzarote, this is an unexpectedly strong combination of red wine, lemonade, liqueurs, fruit and ice). Rum is the best-known Canarian spirit and also very popular are Ron Miel, a rum liqueur with honey, and Cobana, a yellow banana liqueur.
Is your mouth-watering yet? Culinary delights await you in Lanzarote!