Whenever I am asked to describe myself in one sentence, I say that I am a passionate writer by day, an avid reader by night, an incurable traveler, an art enthusiast, and an absolute foodie. My passion for food and culinary traveling is already famous among my friends who, whenever they travel to a place I’ve already been, always ask for my thoughts on the food and restaurants.
I am far from being an expert when it comes to my holiday destinations, but I can say with pride that I gained my proficiency in Tenerife. I love cooking and I usually wander around the farmers’ markets to buy fresh ingredients for my home-cooked meals, but I never miss an opportunity to discover new restaurants and to revisit my old favorites. Everybody has a weekend activity and “food hunting” is mine.
Although Tenerife is a Spanish island, the Canarian cuisine shows cultural influences not only from the Guanches (the aboriginal inhabitants of the islands) but also from the Latin American and even the African cuisines. Local food in Tenerife can be describe as fresh and simple, with a variety of rich ingredients that can conquer all hungry souls.
A Lovely Way to Begin a Sunny Day: Breakfast and a Barraquito
Mornings in Tenerife are quite busy because most people love having their breakfast in one of the many “cafeterias” that open their doors early. You can order a variety of coffees, from café con leche, café solo, cortado or café bonbon but if you want to feel like a local, ask for a “barraquito”.
This delicious is drink made from a shot of coffee, condensed milk, hot milk, lemon zest, cinnamon, lemon zest and 43 or Tía María liquor. It is absolutely mouthwatering and it gives your day the sweetness it needs!
Seafood, Meat, Cheese, Wine and Everything Fine
When it’s time for lunch the restaurants and cafeterias get busy again. The island is full of incredible places where different types of food is served. I am not a meat fan, so I usually go to restaurants where they serve fresh fish and seafood.
Whether you want to indulge in the most common fish eaten in Tenerife, Cherne ( wreckfish), you want to eat Dorada ( my favorite), sea breams, tuna, octopus, calamari or other seafood, make sure you order papas arrugadas con mojos, as a side. These small, local potatoes are cooked in salt water until they are tender and the skin becomes arrugada (wrinkled). They are served with green (garlic and green herbs) and red (paprika and other spices) sauces. Yummy!
But the island doesn’t only welcome seafood lovers. Meat aficionados can enjoy a variety of delicious traditional meals, as well. Ropa vieja is one of the best, even if its translation is “old clothes”. Made with leftover meats stewed with chickpeas and local veggies, this dish deserves to be tasted by all real foodies. Pair your dish with a cold Dorada, a delicious local beer that makes a great choice for a warm afternoon.
La Hierbita, located in Santa Cruz (the capital) is a great option if you want to indulge in “ropa vieja”. Daring foodies can order Conejo en salmorejo, which is a traditional rabbit stew marinated in coriander sauce. I am not very comfortable with eating rabbit but I adventured myself into having a small bite. It is delicious if you can get over the fact you are eating a…bunny.
For a more “local effect” visiting one of the many makeshift local restaurants known as “guanchinces” is a must. Usually open from November until May, the “guachinches” serve inexpensive tasty home-made food in order to sell the wine they produce. They offer an authentic Tenerife experience at a great price. My favorite is El Talegazo, a place located in La Orotava, where the food is amazing and the views are breathtaking.
When I am not too hungry I order a cheese platter and pair it with a tasty local wine. The island produces high-quality cheeses (prize-winning) and has a variety of prestigious (prize-winning, as well) wines. If you want to try something different, go for “almogrote”, a crumbly but also creamy cheese spread from Tenerife’s neighbor, La Gomera, made of hard cured cheese, tomato, garlic, olive oil, paprika. I love it!
To conclude, I can only add: “Don’t say no to dessert” because they are all delicious. I would lie if I said I have a favorite one, but I never refuse a home-made cake or a bowl of local fruit (I prefer bananas and papaya). Buen provecho!