Canarian cuisine is based on the delicious rockfish that abound near the coast, and its specialties are worth searching out. A typical meal begins with a hearty stew, such as potaje canario (a stew of vegetables, potatoes, and garbanzo beans), rancho canario (vegetables and meat), and potaje de berros (watercress soup). Canarians eat the porridge-like gofio (made with
corn or another grain and milk or broth), though it's hard to find in restaurants. The next course is fresh native fish, the best of which are vieja, cherne, and sama, all firm-flesh white rockfish. Accompanying the fish are papas arrugadas (literally, "wrinkled potatoes"), tiny potatoes native to the Canaries boiled in salty water so that salt crystals form on them as they dry.
Other specialties include cabrito (roast baby goat) and conejo (rabbit), both served in salmorejo, a slightly spicy paprika sauce. Finally, no Canarian meal is complete without a dab of mojo picón, a spicy sauce made with pimientos (red chili peppers), garlic, and tomatoes. Most restaurants serve mojo with each main course, and Canarians heap it liberally on dishes as varied as fish and papas arrugadas. The tamer version is mojo verde,made with cilantro and parsley. Another island specialty is goat cheese, made best in La Palma.
Canarian wines are surprisingly good and varied. Try the young reds and whites on Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote, where wine production is centuries old—the Malmsey wines from Lanzarote were a favorite with Shakespeare's Falstaff. On the stronger side, the Canaries are famous for their dark rum, and several new liqueurs (flavored with coffee, cocoa, or hazelnut) have grown in popularity over the last few years.