August 4, 2011 - Posted by Erin in Spain, Travel, Travels in Spain

Because Tenerife happens to be more than just mojo and bananas, here are some other shots from my recent trip to the popular Spanish Island.

houses in tenerife
San Francisco-style painted house in Santiago del Teide.

Ginormous koi fish at our hotel. (Not really Tenerife-ish, but they’re pretty, so why not?)
banana in tenerife, spain
Me, a banana and some Germans. Sounds about pretty much par for the course on the trip.
cactus in tenerife spain
Creepy cactus.
lapas, limpets or sea snails in tenerife spain
These are lapas, which I just learned are called limpets in English. Do you know what those are????? Well I didn’t either until about 30 seconds ago. They are seawater snails. Excuse me while I go wash my mouth out. Sick, sick, sick. (And no, I didn’t like them.)
oldest tree in tenerife spain
Apparently this tree is at least 1000 years old. The palm tree is trying to give it a run for its money, though.
old women in tenerife spain
Gosh, I wonder why I don’t just love Spanish grandmas. (Shortly after trying to slyly take this picture, one of the grandmas turned and gave me the look of death, sending me scurrying in the other direction.)
pilot whales in tenerife spain
Whale/dolphin watching, we came across these dolphin-like pilot whales. I suppose we got our money’s worth?
landscape of tenerife spain
A rare moment on our trip when the sun peeked through the clouds.
cheap lunch in tenerife spain
Our entire AMAZING lunch in the town of Garachico only came to 18.20€. IN. SANE.

August 2, 2011 - Posted by Erin in Culture, Food and wine, Spain, Travel, Travels in Spain

The Island of Tenerife is covered in bananas – plátanos, to be exact. They’re everywhere you look.

Now I’m not bananas for bananas, but I make a mean banana bread, so when visiting Tenerife recently I was kind of thrilled at the prospect of trying all sorts of fruit-based desserts (and non-fruit-based desserts – all desserts really).

Tene-huh? Located off the western coast of Africa (but technically Spain), Tenerife is an island of contrasts – from the El Teide volcano (Spain’s highest point) to the dry, cactus-covered shorelines. It’s Spain meets Hawaii meets Arizona.

The Canary Islands archipelago also happens to be an old stopping point for ships making journeys to the Americas. I suppose it’s no wonder, then, that language accents and cuisine got all garbled up in the process. Listening to a Canarian speak might sound more like someone from Puerto Rico than Spain (not surprising considering the thousands of Canarians who’ve emigrated Latin America). And some of the cuisine may not remind you of the typical Spanish fare that I never seem to stop babbling about.

With that in mind, I came prepared to do my usual food research (step one: eat, step two: eat, step three: repeat). Scouring the menus, however, I was lost and confused by the lack of banana-related dishes – and by lack, I mean none. This place is the banana capital of the world (according to me) – how can they not have banana everything?

But somewhere between scuba diving with turtles (monumental day for me) and feeding a donkey, I discovered that other amazing non-banana dishes do exist in Las Canarias – specifically, mojo. Not pronounced mo-jo à la Austin Powers, but rather mo-ho. Initial thoughts upon trying this Canarian specialty: what bananas?!?

Typically served as two different sauces (although more than two exist), the zesty red and green mojos transported me to another place. Between the familiar flavor of cilantro in the green, and the spicy kick of the red, the tastes were more reminiscent of the Mexican food I’m used to than that of traditional Spanish cuisine. While the sauces are often eaten with anything, from fish, to chicken, they are most famously served with the Islands’ small potatoes.

They aren’t just your regular tortilla potatoes, though. They’re papas arrugadas, or wrinkly potatoes. The smooth-as-butter textured taters typically soak in salt water before being set out to dry. The resulting “wrinkly” potato has a melt-in-your-mouth consistency and a salty skin that makes it taste like it came straight from the sea. Dipped in some of that mojo and you’ve got yourself an irresistible combination. I’m not going to lie – I’d drink the sauces if no one was looking. Maybe lick the bowl too.

Meanwhile, aboard our whale-watching boat, we were finally served the seemingly unpopular plátanos. No sugar added, no fancy sauce, nothing fried or doused in whip cream, just your basic banana – peel and all. And I couldn’t have been happier. I cradled the forgotten fruit in my hands, took a picture with it, and threw it in my bag, committed to eating it and giving it its much deserved attention later.

The next day, while traversing the Island, we came upon – surprise – more banana plantations, at which point I demanded we stop. With newfound affection, I snuck up to the roped-off plants. Banana in hand, I peeled it open and savored every last bite, contemplating how it might taste with some mojo.