Food and Drink
Gran Canaria’s cuisine offers something for everyone. While a wide range of international foods are available the traditional local food and drink, typically Spanish with an influence of Latin American culture, is to be recommended and offers good value for money.
is a duty free island and with no weights and measures laws and spirits and cocktails are typically poured very generously. The most popular beer is Tropical which is brewed in the Canaries, a light lager pilsner well suited to the warm climate. International beers are also widely available with Dorada, San Miguel and Heineken also among the most popular. Rum is the most popular spirit whether in cocktails, with cola or neat on ice. By far the most prevalent brand, Ron Arehucas is brewed in the picturesque town of Arucas in a modern distillery, the largest of the Canary Islands. Rum cocktails are numerous with among the most popular, Mojito, originating from Cuba and containing rum, sugar, lime juice and chopped mint leaves.
Local wines are produced with a number of vineyards to the north of the island some offering open cellars with food available. A two hundred year old museum inrecounts a time when the island was a major exporter of wine with a thriving industry exporting to much of Europe and Africa.
Coffee is the hot beverage of choice with the typical preparation being either cafe solo, cafe con leche (milky coffee served in a large cup or glass) and cafe cortado (a smaller stronger milk based coffee sometimes prepared with sweet evaporated milk). Tea will usually be available in tourist areas and larger cafes.
Typically in Spain lunch is the main meal of the day with a smaller dinner taken from 9pm often beyond 12pm. Most bars and cafes serve tapas with drinks presenting good value for money and visitors may experiment with various items of the local cuisine and choose to repeat favourites.
Perhaps not surprising given the surrounding Atlantic ocean, fish and seafood are very popular on Gran Canaria. Many restaurants particularly in port towns such as Puerto Rico,and serve fresh fish landed locally the same day. A wide variety of fish are prepared baked or fried with garlic, olive oil and herbs, and typically served with a side order of ‘papas arrugadas’; wrinkled potatoes cooked in salted water. Several fish stews and soups are also popular including Sancocho Canario, a hearty dish of salted cod and sweet potato.
Popular meat fishes include the amusingly named Ropa Vieja – translation ‘old clothes’ – a stew of meat, and sometimes chicken, with chickpeas and vegetables. The chuleta de cerdo (pork cutlet) is very tender and particularly recommended served as a bocadillo (baguette sandwich). A wide variety of cured meats are found including Serano ham served finely sliced from a whole pigs leg, and Chorizo and Salchichón, both hard cured sausages also served sliced.
Fish, meat and potato dishes are typically served with one of two ‘Mojos’ (sauces), served cold. Mojo Picon (spicy sauce) is made with red pepper, garlic and spices including cumin and red pepper for a slightly picante flavour. Mojo verde (green sauce), made with garlic, olive oil, white wine vinegar and coriander, is of a herbal taste.
Given the warm climate salads are also very popular and served with a wide variety of accompanying foods; for example goats cheese, sardines or olives. A popular tapas dish, Ensalada Rusa (Russian Salad) is a delicious potato salad of South American origin containing vegetables, onion, egg and variably tuna.
The local cheeses offer a proud tradition and are incredibly tasty. Typically made from goat or sheep milk, mild in flavour and either fresh with a soft texture or the cured hard cheeses.
Families here typically prepare a weekly potaje (potage) lasting for two or three days. This thick hearty soup comprises lentils, chickpeas or beans with a variety of vegetables and meat. This healthy dish is found in most Canarian restaurants offered with a generous sprinkling of Gofio, another mainstay local food of toasted cereal or maize flour.
Vegetarians may experience a lack of choice as vegetarianism really isn’t a popular Spanish lifestyle choice as of yet.and hotels will usually provide greater variety. One should be very clear when ordering a dish such as sanwich vegetal (vegetable sandwich) as it also includes ham or tuna, or both.
A great resource about Gran Canaria is the tuGranCanaria.com web-site that is full of information about the popular Canary Island.