This food is part of the legacy left by the Guanche people, Tenerife’s first inhabitants and it is one of the key pillars of Canarian cuisine in its own right. Gofio is a kind of flour made from toasted grains, so there are a variety of types, all of which make a tasty and healthy ingredient. Gofio can be eaten with milk at breakfast, in a dish known as “escaldón” mixed with fish broth, or with honey and almonds as a tasty sweet or aperitif. It is also often found enhancing stews and soups, which means that every house in Tenerife is bound to have some of this entirely natural ingredient on the shelf. Some of the most innovative ways to use gofio flour are desserts such as ice creams or mousses.
Its colour depends on whether the base is corn or wheat, but it generally comes in beige and yellowy tones. The traditional mills where the grains are toasted and ground are surrounded by its deliciously characteristic dry and intense smell, and some are still running on the Island. Because this ingredient was used by Tenerife’s aboriginal inhabitants, it is also seen by many locals as a symbol of their identity. Its nutritional value was the key to the population’s survival in times of famine during Tenerife’s toughest periods in history.
Before the Canary Islands were conquered by Spain, the aborigines would make gofio by toasting different kinds of grain in clay dishes and grinding it using basalt stones. As from the 16th century, the variety of cereals used broadened, especially with the arrival of corn from America, which became a key ingredient in the gofio we know today. Its uses range from exquisite gofio mousses and nougats to afternoon snacks and breakfasts served in Canarian homes, such as milk and gofio or mashed bananas dusted with nutritional gofio flour. Every year, the finest chefs and confectioners surprise their audiences with innovative recipes using gofio in combination with other local or foreign products. In addition to its flavour, gofio is rich in minerals and carbohydrates, making it a great food for sportspeople. Traditionally, it was hand-rolled into balls mixed with water, salt, honey or nuts, or used to make nougat.