The breathtaking topographic disparities and climatic variations, including contrasting humid trade winds and dry desert-air currents, all help to generate a diverse patchwork of agricultural produce. Along with the aquacultural goods on offer, the island's larder is rich and bountiful. Add to that the farmers' markets and fish markets and you will discover a tempting abundance of food choice.
From Parrotfish to Pigs’ Tails
Local cuisine is renowned for making use of every part of the cochino (pig). That cute, curly tail (templero) was traditionally hung from the kitchen doorway to be periodically dipped into the cooking pot for stock. A typical tapa here, generally accompanied by the traditional rum aperitif, is caracajas (pieces of fried pork liver doused in a spicy sauce). Goat is also popular, along with rabbit, while seafood is, naturally enough, always a good bet – this is an island, after all. Try the much-prized vieja (parrotfish), a member of the sea-bream family.
Goat’s cheese is produced on several islands, though one of the best-known soft cheeses, Gran Canaria’s queso de flor, is made from a combination of cow's and sheep’s milk. The cheese, which is produced exclusively in the northern Guía area, is then infused with the aroma of flowers from the cardo alcausí thistle. Another scrumptious winner is the similar-tasting pastor cheese, produced in the Arucas region. Pick up the booklet La Ruta de los Quesos (in English) at larger tourist offices for more cheesy information.
Almonds are a favourite ingredient of many traditional desserts, including the must-try bienmesabe (literally translated as ‘it tastes good to me’), made from ground almonds, lemon rind, sugar and eggs.
Among the outstanding Gran Canaria wines is the fruity Del Monte, a perfect, if tiddly, accompaniment to meat dishes, with an alcohol content over 11.5%. Aside from ron miel (honey rum), which is more liqueur than rum, the island produces a decent drop of golden rum – head to the distillery in Arucas to taste the full range. ¡Salud!