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One thing you certainly can’t miss is a helping (or four) of papas arrugadas: Canarian wrinkly potatoes. You’ll find them on practically every menu in Gran Canaria and they are far more tasty than the name suggests.
Small Canarian potatoes grown in volcanic soil and distinct in flavour are scattered with salt, boiled in salty water and then left to dry, before getting a final dusting of salt. They end up wrinkly, soft and – you guessed it – very salty. Served as a snack, they are usually served with another Canarian classic: mojo sauce.
There are two types of mojo sauce: green (mojo verde) and red (mojo picón). Together, they play good-cop-bad-cop with your taste buds.
The green version is fairly innocent with a welcome tang. Made with coriander and parsley, it’s fresh and zingy.
The red version, on the other hand, can reduce you to tears. Packed with chillies, it’s a little bit like lighting a match and setting your mouth on fire. Be afraid. Be very afraid. If you’re about to dip your papas arrugadas into red mojo, start with a gentle dunk and build up your tolerance from there.
Mojo isn’t only served with potatoes, it often accompanies main dishes.
Seafood is, understandably, a staple of the Canary Islands, often grilled very simply and served with lemon, garlic, salt and pepper.
Of course, if you want to spice things up, just add a modest dollop of mojo picón and enjoy the ride.
One local favourite is sancocho canario, a traditional fish served with wrinkly potatoes and mojo, while caldereta, a lip-smacking fish soup, is another must-try.
If fish doesn’t float your boat, there are plenty of meat options instead, from local roast goat to albondigas: a tapas dish of meatballs in tomato sauce.
Ropa vieja is a homey dish that has been passed down through generations. Translated as ‘old clothes’, it features shredded leftover meats stewed with veg and pulses.
Round off your meal with bienmesabe, which translates as ‘tastes good to me’. Think almond and cinnamon syrup with hints of lemon zest, it eats like heaven on a spoon when served with a scoop of ice cream. Sometimes thickened with eggs to become a custard and served with cookies, it’s simple and tooth-achingly sweet.
Work off those sweet sensations with a late-night boogie (or just let them settle over a sea-view cocktail). Our Gran Canaria nightlife page shows you around the top haunts.