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A  traditional ingredient in Canary Island potaje soup.
Jaramagos: A free alternative to watercress in Canarian potaje

While we take tropical fruit like mangos, pineapples and papaya for granted in the Canary Islands, it’s the weird and wonderful veggies that make life in the Canarian kitchen interesting. 

Today we visited San Mateo market to buy the ingredients for a traditional Canarian potaje soup. It struck me that while potaje is as Canarian as mojo sauce, its ingredients are a whole lot more cosmopolitan. The delicious soup bubbling away on our hob has something in it from every continent.


As well as corn, sweet potato, marrow, potato, onions and garlic, we made our potaje using exotic ingredients that, while on sale in every Canarian market, are rarely found anywhere else:





Canary Island Potaje: A Local Soup With Cosmopolitan Ingredients
Ñame or taro root


Ñame
Ñame is the local name for taro root, a tropical root vegetable completely unknown in the rest of Europe It’s originally from Malaysia and Australia but is now a common crop across the warm bits of the world. Ñame roots have brown skins and white, starchy flesh. It is sold in slices about an inch thick: One is enough for a good batch of potaje.

While ñame is an essential ingredient of the authentic Canarian potaje you have to take care with it. The raw tuber is full of Calcium oxalate crystals that set your mouth on fire. It needs to be cooked well before eating and adds a slight spiciness that is essential to a good Canarian potaje.
Jaramago
Jaramago (Diplotaxis or wall rocket) is an annual plant native to North Africa and the Mediterranean that pops up here after the rains. It carpets old fields and roadsides with yellow flowers in the late spring, attracting clouds of white butterflies.
Young jaramago leaves are collected in the Cumbres and used in potaje as a free alternative to watercress. Raw jaramagos taste slightly sour and mustardy but have rough leaves. Cooked they soften and taste like spinach but with a peppery edge. You find them in local markets (especially in San Mateo) about a month after the first rains. I’ve never heard of them being eaten anywhere else.



Canary Island Potaje: A Local Soup With Cosmopolitan Ingredients
Judias pintas or pinto beans

Judias Pintas

Judias pintas (pinto beans) are a common ingredient in Central American and Mexican food. You can buy them dried or tinned in most countries but in the Canary Islands they are used fresh from the pod. They are probably the prettiest of the beans with cream pods marbled with pink containing pink and white beans. The pods are inedible but the fresh beans hold their shape in potaje and add a bit of texture when everything else goes soft.

Chayote
Also known as the pear squash, the chayote is a wrinkly, green vegetable about the size and shape of an avocado. It can be smooth or covered in soft spikes or hairs. The chayote is native to Brazil and is has become popular in Gran Canaria thanks to the recent wave of immigration from South America. We chucked a couple into our potaje as they taste like courgette but keep their shape better.

Azafrán del pais
While a small amount of genuine saffron is grown in Lanzarote in Haría, it is too expensive to chuck in soup so we used azafrán del país.
Thisis a different thing entirely and come not from a crocus but from a thistle with orange/yellow flowers called Cathamus tinctorius. It grows all over the Canary Islands as a roadside weed.



Canary Island Potaje: A Local Soup With Cosmopolitan Ingredients
Potaje

After a couple of hours of simmering our exotic but local potaje was ready. With a few bits of queso tierno (soft, fresh cheese) added at the last minute, it is the perfect meal on an autumn day. With the temperature only 22 degrees Celsius, we need something to warm us up!


Like this Canary Island food post? Here are a couple more from the Sunshine Guide:

A Great Canarian Potaje Recipe
The Top Ten Canarian Foods
Gofio: Canary Island Soul Food...

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Gofio is the soul food in the Canary Islands
Gofio: Canary Island Soul Food
Photo: Lex Thoonen

Gofio picks up cliches like no other Canarian food. It is "the staple foodstuff" of the Canary Islands, "an acquired taste" or "simply disgusting". It even makes the odd appearance in the "Top Ten Horrible Foods I Have Pretended To Try" lists that pollute traffic-hungry travel blogs and newspaper websites.

Even the Smithsonian Magazine website has it in for the stuff, calling gofio "vile" and describing it as "like eating wallpaper paste". I assume that it respected its scientific origins and forced the writer to eat a bowl of wallpaper paste before letting that last one through fact checking!



So where does the widespread belief that gofio is revolting come from? I think it is due to its texture rather than the taste. Gofio is simply flour made from roasted popcorn kernels that didn't get their moment of explosive glory. If you like popcorn then you like the taste of gofio. 

Add a comment
Gofio is the soul food in the Canary Islands
Gofio: Canary Island Soul Food
Photo: Lex Thoonen

Gofio picks up cliches like no other Canarian food. It is "the staple foodstuff" of the Canary Islands, "an acquired taste" or "simply disgusting". It even makes the odd appearance in the "Top Ten Horrible Foods I Have Pretended To Try" lists that pollute traffic-hungry travel blogs and newspaper websites.

Even the Smithsonian Magazine website has it in for the stuff, calling gofio "vile" and describing it as "like eating wallpaper paste". I assume that it respected its scientific origins and forced the writer to eat a bowl of wallpaper paste before letting that last one through fact checking!



So where does the widespread belief that gofio is revolting come from? I think it is due to its texture rather than the taste. Gofio is simply flour made from roasted popcorn kernels that didn't get their moment of explosive glory. If you like popcorn then you like the taste of gofio. 


The texture, however, is more of a challenge. Put a pinch of pure gofio in your mouth and it sucks up all the saliva and leaves you thalthing lith thith. The sensation is similar to that of eating thick peanut butter (unpleasant enough to some for it to have its own phobia: arachibutyrophobia).


Toasted maize kernels before milling into gofio
Toasted maize is milled into gofio
 Viajar sin Destino
The History Of Gofio

Gofio came to the Canary Islands with their original inhabitants the Guanches. They made it from barley, their only grain crop. Tantalizingly, roasted barley flour is also a common food in Morocco and especially the Atlas Mountains (where the Guanches are believed to have originated from). Gofio is the only food that we know of that passed from the Guanches to the European colonists who replaced them. Waves of Canarian emigrants have carried gofio all over the Hispanic world. It is still popular in Cuba, the Dominican republic, Venezuela, Argentina and Chile.

Curiously, the Aztecs had a similar food called pinole, made from ground and roasted maize mixed with seeds and herbs. Pinolillo, a drink made from roasted maize flour and cacao powder, is the national drink of Nicaragua. The Aztecs even used to make pinole into an alcoholic drink. Maybe that was the inspiration for Volcan, a beer made from gofio that launched in the 1980s but didn't take off.

Gofio today is usually made with maize, a grain unknown to the Guanches. It is on sale in every supermarket but isn't the staple foodstuff of the Canary islands. That would be sickly sweet, over-processed Bimbo bread. Now that really is simply disgusting.


A typical Canary Island dish served with seafood
Soul food: Gofio escaldado Fernando Carmona Gonzalez

Soul Food

Gofio is soul food in the Canary Islands. Most Canarians were weaned on bananas mashed up with gofio and many still eat it every day. It is so tightly entwined with local identity that it is best not not to tell anyone on the islands if you don't like it. At the same time Canarians aren't stupid. They enjoy cake and chocolate and ice cream just like everyone else. They wouldn't eat gofio if it was horrible!

That said, there are plenty of Canarians who can't stand it. Recently a local taxi driver told me that during his childhood in the lean days after the Civil War gofio was all there was. He said the taste reminded him of being hungry and miserable and that he would never eat it again.

Perhaps gofio's image problem is because most visitors to the Canary Islands try it in resort restaurants or those barns in the hills that caters to bus loads of tourists at a time. Somehow gofio doesn't take well to industrial-scale preparation or disinterested cooks.

Visit a local market where they are milling fresh gofio from still-hot roasted kernels and you start to understand its allure. The rich, malty smell (a mixture of popcorn and brewing beer) hits that spot in the brain that makes you go mmmmm. Freshly milled gofio is a whole different animal to shop-bought stuff. It's much richer and the aroma spreads through the kitchen cupboards.



Gofio desserts show off its flavour
Delicious gofio ice cream stu_spivack

Gofio Dishes

Gofio escaldado is a thick porridge made from gofio mixed with fish soup and mint leaves and served with pieces of sweet red onion. You scoop it up with the onion and eat the lot. Mint and onion is a classic combination of flavours that goes well with the warm nuttiness of gofio. Gofio escaldado goes with deep fried fish in a shabby restaurant right by the sea. Inexplicably, you always have to ask for extra onion pieces. 

Pello de gofio is as close to the original Guanche way of eating it as we get today. It is gofio mixed with water and a little oil. Nowadays it comes almost exclusively with sancocho fish stew; cooked up in huge quantities during local romerias (fiestas). Sweetened with honey or ripe bananas and with a handful of almonds and raisins thrown in, sweet pella is a common romeria dessert.

Gofio dissolved in a big cafe con leche is the traditional breakfast of the Cumbres. The trick is keep stirring as you drink it to stop the gofio from settling. On a cold day in the mountains nothing fills your stomach like cafe con gofio.

Desserts are the best way to approach gofio if you are wary of the texture. Many bars and restaurants serve home-made gofio mousse and gofio ice cream. Both are excellent and have no cloying mouthfeel at all. The ice cream, swerved with a dollop of bienmesabe almond paste, or a drizzle of guarapo palm syrup, is excellent.

Gofio doen't deserve its reputation as an icky foodstuff. Its rich flavour and importance in Canarian history and culture mean that you really should try it if you come to the Canary Islands.

Like this? Don't forget to share it on your favourite social network and to check out these similar posts:

Old Clothes and Wrinkly Popes (A Guide to Traditional Canarian Food)
Who's For Poached Parrotfish and Live Sea Urchin?
Banana Liqueur and Tropical Beer: Canary Island Drinks Guide

Read the original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DoingStuffOnGranCanaria/~3/fbULmOmcdUI/in-defence-of-gofio-canary-islands-soul.html


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Horrible Gofio: The Canary Island Soul Food
Gofio: Canary Island Soul Food
Photo: Lex Thoonen

Gofio picks up cliches like no other Canarian food. It is "the staple foodstuff" of the Canary Islands, "an acquired taste" or "simply disgusting". It even makes the odd appearance in the "Top Ten Horrible Foods I Have Pretended To Try" lists that pollute traffic-hungry travel blogs and newspaper websites.

Even the Smithsonian Magazine website has it in for the stuff, calling gofio "vile" and describing it as "like eating wallpaper paste". I assume that it respected its scientific origins and forced the writer to eat a bowl of wallpaper paste before letting that last one through fact checking!



So where does the widespread belief that gofio is revolting come from? I think it is due to its texture rather than the taste. Gofio is simply flour made from roasted popcorn kernels that didn't get their moment of explosive glory. If you like popcorn then you like the taste of gofio. 


The texture, however, is more of a challenge. Put a pinch of pure gofio in your mouth and it sucks up all the saliva and leaves you thalthing lith thith. The sensation is similar to that of eating thick peanut butter (unpleasant enough to some for it to have its own phobia: arachibutyrophobia).


Horrible Gofio: The Canary Island Soul Food
Toasted maize is milled into gofio
 Viajar sin Destino
The History Of Gofio

Gofio came to the Canary Islands with their original inhabitants the Guanches. They made it from barley, their only grain crop. Tantalizingly, roasted barley flour is also a common food in Morocco and especially the Atlas Mountains (where the Guanches are believed to have originated from). Gofio is the only food that we know of that passed from the Guanches to the European colonists who replaced them. Waves of Canarian emigrants have carried gofio all over the Hispanic world. It is still popular in Cuba, the Dominican republic, Venezuela, Argentina and Chile.

Curiously, the Aztecs had a similar food called pinole, made from ground and roasted maize mixed with seeds and herbs. Pinolillo, a drink made from roasted maize flour and cacao powder, is the national drink of Nicaragua. The Aztecs even used to make pinole into an alcoholic drink. Maybe that was the inspiration for Volcan, a beer made from gofio that launched in the 1980s but didn't take off.

Gofio today is usually made with maize, a grain unknown to the Guanches. It is on sale in every supermarket but isn't the staple foodstuff of the Canary islands. That would be sickly sweet, over-processed Bimbo bread. Now that really is simply disgusting.


Horrible Gofio: The Canary Island Soul Food
Soul food: Gofio escaldado Fernando Carmona Gonzalez

Soul Food

Gofio is soul food in the Canary Islands. Most Canarians were weaned on bananas mashed up with gofio and many still eat it every day. It is so tightly entwined with local identity that it is best not not to tell anyone on the islands if you don't like it. At the same time Canarians aren't stupid. They enjoy cake and chocolate and ice cream just like everyone else. They wouldn't eat gofio if it was horrible!

That said, there are plenty of Canarians who can't stand it. Recently a local taxi driver told me that during his childhood in the lean days after the Civil War gofio was all there was. He said the taste reminded him of being hungry and miserable and that he would never eat it again.

Perhaps gofio's image problem is because most visitors to the Canary Islands try it in resort restaurants or those barns in the hills that caters to bus loads of tourists at a time. Somehow gofio doesn't take well to industrial-scale preparation or disinterested cooks.

Visit a local market where they are milling fresh gofio from still-hot roasted kernels and you start to understand its allure. The rich, malty smell (a mixture of popcorn and brewing beer) hits that spot in the brain that makes you go mmmmm. Freshly milled gofio is a whole different animal to shop-bought stuff. It's much richer and the aroma spreads through the kitchen cupboards.



Gofio desserts show off its flavour
Delicious gofio ice cream stu_spivack

Gofio Dishes

Gofio escaldado is a thick porridge made from gofio mixed with fish soup and mint leaves and served with pieces of sweet red onion. You scoop it up with the onion and eat the lot. Mint and onion is a classic combination of flavours that goes well with the warm nuttiness of gofio. Gofio escaldado goes with deep fried fish in a shabby restaurant right by the sea. Inexplicably, you always have to ask for extra onion pieces. 

Pello de gofio is as close to the original Guanche way of eating it as we get today. It is gofio mixed with water and a little oil. Nowadays it comes almost exclusively with sancocho fish stew; cooked up in huge quantities during local romerias (fiestas). Sweetened with honey or ripe bananas and with a handful of almonds and raisins thrown in, sweet pella is a common romeria dessert.

Gofio dissolved in a big cafe con leche is the traditional breakfast of the Cumbres. The trick is keep stirring as you drink it to stop the gofio from settling. On a cold day in the mountains nothing fills your stomach like cafe con gofio.

Desserts are the best way to approach gofio if you are wary of the texture. Many bars and restaurants serve home-made gofio mousse and gofio ice cream. Both are excellent and have no cloying mouthfeel at all. The ice cream, swerved with a dollop of bienmesabe almond paste, or a drizzle of guarapo palm syrup, is excellent.

Gofio doen't deserve its reputation as an icky foodstuff. Its rich flavour and importance in Canarian history and culture mean that you really should try it if you come to the Canary Islands.

Like this? Don't forget to share it on your favourite social network and to check out these similar posts:

Old Clothes and Wrinkly Popes (A Guide to Traditional Canarian Food)
Who's For Poached Parrotfish and Live Sea Urchin?
Banana Liqueur and Tropical Beer: Canary Island Drinks Guide
...

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The ARC race to St Lucia from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
The ARC Race leaves Las Palmas
Every November hundreds of yachts and catamarans arrive in Las Palmas marina to get ready for annual ARC Race (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) from Gran Canaria to St Lucia. For residents this means that the shops sell out of gin and tonic and the markets run out of fruit and veg. Stock up now!!


This year's race leaves on November 25 at 12.30. There are 230 yachts this year with over 1500 crew. Registration starts on November 13. Between then and race day there are parties and fiestas in the marina bars and all over the posh bits of the city.

Walk along the Las Canteras promenade in November and you find yachty types everywhere. They are easy to recognize on account of their sunburned faces and sailing shoes. Often they are hiding from determined backpacker types trying to blag a free trip to the Caribbean.

A tip for wannabe deckhands: If you want to jump a lift then some kind of sailing experience is useful. Otherwise you are just competition for limited supplies of gin!

Most yachts are family cruisers and take about three weeks to get across the Atlantic. Fast boats, or ones that run out of booze, make it in 12 days. 
The route isn't that difficult to follow: You just sail south until the butter melts and then turn west!


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Lock Up Your Gin: The ARC Race Is In Town
The ARC Race leaves Las Palmas
Every November hundreds of yachts and catamarans arrive in Las Palmas marina to get ready for annual ARC Race (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) from Gran Canaria to St Lucia. For residents this means that the shops sell out of gin and tonic and the markets run out of fruit and veg. Stock up now!!


This year's race leaves on November 25 at 12.30. There are 230 yachts this year with over 1500 crew. Registration starts on November 13. Between then and race day there are parties and fiestas in the marina bars and all over the posh bits of the city.
Walk along the Las Canteras promenade in November and you find yachty types everywhere. They are easy to recognize on account of their sunburned faces and sailing shoes. Often they are hiding from determined backpacker types trying to blag a free trip to the Caribbean.


A tip for wannabe deckhands: If you want to jump a lift then some kind of sailing experience is useful. Otherwise you are just competition for limited supplies of gin!
Most yachts are family cruisers and take about three weeks to get across the Atlantic. Fast boats, or ones that run out of booze, make it in 12 days. 
The route isn't that difficult to follow: You just sail south until the butter melts and then turn west!

Lock Up Your Gin: The ARC Race Is In Town
The start of the ARC

The first day of the race is a big event in Las Palmas. Half the city turns out to watch yachts put up their sails and disappear over the horizon. While you can watch them from the Avenida Marítima walkway right by the marina, the best view is either from San Cristobal or from San Juan. From these spots you are as close as possible to the start line. From San Juan you also get to see the yachts with sails up right behind the cathedral in Vegueta. 

A warm welcome to everyone who is coming to Las Palmas to take part in the ARC. Let us know if you have any questions about Gran Canaria! We don't charge but do accept drinks at sunset :-D
...

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