Despite all the hiking we were doing, we definitely weren’t losing any weight here in Tenerife. And that didn’t surprise me, considering the hearty food, and the outsized portions in which they serve it. But we loved the island’s cuisine, which is quite distinct from that of the Spanish mainland.
We’ve already written about gofio, the toasted flour which is an essential component of so many dishes in Tenerife, and we weren’t surprised to discover the existence of escaldón: a soup made almost entirely out of the stuff. A simple mix of gofio and broth (fish, beef, vegetable, whatever), and usually served with chunks of onion or meat, this is about as humble as dish can be, perfect for cold afternoons, or to replenish yourself after a hike.
We were served papas arrugadas during our first meal in the Canaries, at the small restaurant in Imada on La Gomera… when she put the plate of small, shriveled potatoes onto our table, we couldn’t have been less impressed. But these “wrinkled potatoes” are a specialty of the archipelago. Another simple dish, the tiny potatoes are boiled in salt water, then left to dry in the still-hot cooking pot until they shrivel, leaving them with a thin coat of salt. They’re more delicious than they have any right to be, especially when served with…
Mojos are an indispensable component of nearly every meal on Tenerife, served before you’ve even had a chance to look at your menu. These are pepper-based sauces, and you’ll usually get a mojo verde (green) and mojo rojo (red) to drizzle over your bread, meat, and of course, papas arrugadas. There are dozens of varieties, but the two most popular are green mojo, generally made with parsley and garlic, and the spicier red mojo, which contains paprika and cumin.
Being an island, it’s no surprise that Tenerife has a lot of excellent seafood. Among the fish most frequently seen on menus is the Cherne (known in English as the Atlantic Wreckfish). This is a large deepwater predator which hides in shipwrecks or caves, waiting for smaller fish or squid to pass by. It’s delicious, with a mild flavor, and thick white flakes.