Since one of my hobbies is eating and constantly trying new gastronomic experiences, it was impossible for me not to write an article on Canarian cuisine.
So here I am, on the balcony of my apartment in Tenerife, with a “zumo natural de fresas” by my side, watching the city of Santa Cruz for the last time. Tomorrow I’ll be back home! <3
I was looking over the photos I took this month and a lot of weird recipes that I had tried crossed my mind. I still remember with gusto (or in certain cases with less gusto – hahaha) some of the best foods I have ever had! So, let’s see what are the 6 recipes you must try when you visit Tenerife!
1. The jams
Usually, when you hear “jam” you think of strawberry, prune or apricot jam, but here jams are at a whole other level. In Tenerife, I came across the most bizarre types of marmalade: hot pepper, orange and whiskey, cactus or even tomato jam (no, I don’t mean broth, I mean sweet jam – with sugar and everything else)!
As I have already mentioned several times, the cactus is my favourite plant, so you can imagine my reaction when I found out cactus jam exists somewhere in this world! I burst into a cry of joy, took a shopping basket and stocked up for the entire year! I’ve also bought pineapple, kiwi, fig and banana jam, but the offer was much more varied! I can’t wait to try them all!
I was tempted to buy some more… “daring” marmalades, such as hot pepper, but so far I haven’t had the courage. Maybe I’ll go back home with one of these weird things after all. There is still time until tomorrow.
2. Tropical salad
Another Canarian obsession consists of mixing fruits with vegetables (or fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat and everything you can find in the fridge), and the tropical salad is very popular here. Until I arrived in Tenerife, I had never thought it was possible for me to swallow dragon fruit, onion, strawberries and goat cheese at the same time, but it happened at a traditional restaurant from an isolated village, with no cell signal, hidden between rocks and fog.
I remember I had got there after an hour of travelling by bus through serpentine lanes and I was very hungry. I saw a restaurant on the bank of the ocean and we went there immediately. I had only eaten burgers and fries the entire week, so I was very excited to see salad on the menu – tropical salad, to be precise.
I didn’t know what it meant exactly, but I ordered it without thinking twice. Five minutes later, I saw a weird combination of everything that grows in the earth topped with goat cheese in front of me. I cautiously bit a small piece of mango.
So far, it was good. Then, I slowly started to mix fruits and vegetables to see what the result would be. I can’t say I would order tropical salad a second time because I would be lying, but it was… an interesting meal. A must try!
3. The famous octopus
It was at a seafood restaurant from an isolated village, close to the beach, that I tried a whole octopus for the first time! I had tasted octopus before, in salads or other seafood recipes, but never an octopus laid out on a plate, with no other added ingredient – not even salt. It was simply a boiled octopus served as such. Kind of like a boiled egg, but instead of an egg it was an octopus.
I found its aspect so interesting! Of course I knew how it was supposed to look like from pictures or films, but seeing it so real in front of my eyes was shocking. It was so big and it had giant suckers. I was almost expecting it to jump at any moment and cling on me. Hahaha. After studying it carefully, I plucked up my heart and cut a tentacle. Its consistency was gelatinous and meaty at the same time.
They don’t call it “pulpo” in Spanish for nothing – it did have the consistency of pulp. Alex tried to taste it, but when I came to him with my fork he almost became sick from the smell, because it’s true that it smelled a lot like seawater.
4. Eggplant schnitzel with palm tree honey
The moment I first ate eggplant schnitzel with palm tree honey was captured in the first part of my vlog about the experience in Tenerife (click here for the video – part two coming soon, I haven’t forgotten about it!). Eggplant is my favorite vegetable! I love eggplant salad, eggplant stew, grilled eggplant and now eggplant schnitzel!
I had never imagined the possibility of eating eggplant with a crispy crust before, not to mention that I had never heard of palm tree honey either. You can find it at any souvenir shop (next to the exotic jams, of course). This is a recipe I would definitely try again.
5. Canarian potatoes and the “mojos”
This recipe is not as weird as the others, consisting of potatoes boiled in their skin with salt, but what makes it special are the two traditional sauces of the Canary Islands: mojo rojo and mojo verde.
The red sauce is made of oil, vinegar and red pepper (chili), which gives it its specific color (you can also add paprika for extra spiciness), while the green sauce has oil, vinegar (common ingredients of the two mojos) and parsley (you can also add garlic and green pepper).
Therefore, the red one is very spicy and the green one is sweet and aromatic. Again, the two sauces occupy entire shelves in souvenir shops across the island and they come in containers/jars of all sizes so that eager customers can take a bit of the Canarian tradition back home. Of course I bought some… at times I also get caught in tourist traps.
6. Grilled cheese with jam
Since everyone in Tenerife loves jams and sauces, they probably thought it would be more efficient to combine the two concepts and use the jams directly as sauces. Thus, grilled cheese with… jam sauce was born. Alex was completely confused when he tried it for the first time (click here for the video).
He had no idea how he was supposed to combine the two jams in his plate with the cheese. Was he supposed to spread them on butter? Spread them on the cheese? Eat them separately? He still hasn’t found out!
TRANSLATED BY MATHEW B.