Island hopping trip no. 4 "Canary Islands, Spain"
This paradisiac group of islands, which enjoys a wonderful climate with a constant mild temperature through all the year and splendid beaches of fine sand, consists of 7 larger islands (Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro) and a few smaller ones (Alegranza, Graciosa, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este, Roque del Oeste and Lobos). Surprisingly, the landscape of each of the major islands is radically different from the others.
Already Greeks and Romans reported on this archipelago of volcanic origins, and called it the Happy Islands, Garden of the Hesperides, Atlantida, ... Some historians suppose that the legendary continent Atlantis was located here. The islands' original population, commonly called Guanches, is tall and of white skin.
In 1496 the islands became part of the Spanish kingdom, and the ships of Christopher Columbus stopped here on their travel to discover the New World.
At Canary Islands there is eternal springtime. Temperatures between the seasons vary only some 6º C, and the monthly islands average temperatures are from 18º to 24º C (64,4 and 75,2ºF). That means ideal bathing conditions through all the year.
Due to the islands geographical location, some 4º from the tropic of cancer and very close to the African coast, the islands' climate is subtropical. The surprising landscape, with high mountains covered by snow very close to the beaches, is an additional attraction. Water temperature varies from 22º C in summer to 19º C in winter.
In La Palma, Tenerife and Gran Canaria you may find tropical rains from time to time, while Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are very dry and guarantee sunshine almost without interruption.
The character of the population is influenced by this favoured weather conditions as well and Canarians are famous for being always friendly and in good mood. That can be also said about the numerous foreigners, who use to spend the winter-months here.
Canary Islands' cuisine combines traditional Spanish recipes with african and latin-american influences. We find here an incredible variety of recipes, not at least for the great offer of nature, with excellent fish, fruits and vegetables.
A very simple and well-known recipe is Papas Arrugadas, potatoes boilt in salt-water without peeling them and served with Mojo picon, a hot sauce of oil, garlic, chili-peppers and paprika. Each chef de cuisine keeps in secret jalously the detailed recipe of his Mojo. Those sauces are indispensable components of many other typical dishes as well, for instance of the famous Mojo Cochino, a ragout of pork.
One of the most traditional and also one of the oldest recipes of Canarian food is gofio. It was invented by the Guanches, the original inhabitants of the Canary Islands, as the main staple of their diet. It is a stoneground flour made from roasted cereals: wheat, barley, maiz, ... Gofio is used by Canarians in many recipes: it can be added to soups, stews, desserts, sauces, and even ice cream. It is, to give an example, typically served with Morcillas Dulces, sweet blood sausages which are made of pork blood, sugar, almonds and raisins.
If you like fish, you will feel in paradise on those islands. Among the most typical regional recipes are Caldereta and Sancocho Canario, salted fish in a Mojo sauce. You will find a wide variety of international recipes of fish and sea-food, too.
Among vegetarian dishes Potaje de Berros, a hot-pot of chick-peas, is perhaps the best known. Several of the islands have a typical cheese-speciality of their own, best known are the smoked cheese of La Palma and Flor de Guía in Gran Canaria.
Exotic fruits are the base of several excellent desserts and sweets. Platanos Fritos, fried bananas, are in great demand.
Among the islands' wines you should try the Malvasía from Lanzarote and the red-wines of El Hierro, La Palma and Taraconte in Tenerife. Another of the islands' alcoholic specialities is Honey-Rum.