Ask anyone and they’ll say that local food is one of the great things about travelling. Whether it’s familiar western stuff, recognisable but altogether different African or South American food or altogether new and exciting Asian, it’s a global language that everyone looks to learn more of.
It’s the same out here in Tenerife. Although a part of Spain, Tenerife is distinctly different in many ways and the locals cherish this. One way is the food. Though it’s still recognisably Spanish, there are some subtle differences (not that I count myself an expert on Spanish food at all).
Tapas? Check. Paella? Check. Chorizo? Check. All with their own small twist from the mainland versions.
The local area is brimming with food culture in itself. In Tenerife, you can’t swing a cat without bumping into a banana plantation, only adding to an already rich selection of amazing fruit and veg to be found, both local and imported.
To cater to the relentless surge of tourists, restaurants of all portion shapes and sizes are to be found serving grub from all ends of the earth. This is great, though every few restaurants along the sea front are still advertising full English breakfasts. You can take the brit out of Britain and so on…
Around the volunteer house, some of our favourite eateries are the local Mexican in Guargacho. Cheap and cheerful is the key phrase here, with huge portions of fresh and authentic Mexican food on offer all to be washed down with Margaritas that rival anywhere else in the world no doubt. For the non-drinkers or underage-ers, they do offer them sans alcohol too.
Familiar and recognisable as much of Tenerife is to us westerners, there are still one or two things that throw up a surprise. El Rancho de Nino down the road, for example, is laid out as a sort of jungle café where they serve meat, meat and more meat. Seriously, order a dish there are you simply get a plate of whatever meat you asked for, straight from the grill. Chips are an extra and if you’re a vegetarian then, well, best off you cook for yourself that night. The ‘Side Salad’ consists of a chopped up tomato on a plate. It is carnivore heaven though.
Whatever your tastes, Mojo has to be on the must-try list. It’s a local specialty made from tomatoes, avocado and chilies that varies in its heat level and goes well with everything. Never a meal goes by in the volunteer house without the precious jar of Mojo Picante making an appearance.
One of our staff members recently was reminiscing about cake from the UK too, something she was particularly missing. You don’t have to look too far to find Spanish or Canary Island equivalents though. Supermarkets have pastries coming out of their ears that are all made on site that day and vary from cream filled puff pastry things you’d find in a local Tesco bakery, to swirling and whirling Churros that perhaps might be a bit harder to get hold of in the UK. Again, cheap and cheerful springs to mind.
So whether you’re a fussy eater or a get-stuck-in-I-want-some-of-everything type, you’re spoilt for choice in Tenerife. Bring an appetite with you when you come and probably a bib too.
By Guy Bezant - Project Coordinator
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