Nacidas

Nacidas peeping out of the soil.
October 1, 2019

We’ve had quite a bit of autumn rain, particularly at the forest altitude. That means that the wild mushroom season is in full swing. There are people who know enough to collect all sorts of wild mushrooms safely, and they assure me that they’re delicious. I know it can be done. There are people who will never eat a mushroom unless it comes from the supermarket wrapped in plastic. I’m not…

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Yams

August 25, 2019

Yams (ñame in Spanish) are a relative of sweet potatoes. They need a lot of water to grow, so they’re only cultivated in Los Sauces and inside the Caldera. You can recognise a yam patch easily, because they have huge leaves shaped like elephants ears. The root has to be boiled for hours, so you usually buy them from the supermarket already cooked.Then, traditionally, you serve them with honey or…

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Mulberries

July 24, 2019

  Mulberries were originally introduced to the greener parts of La Palma to feed silkworms for silk production. The fruit is a delicious side-effect. Sadly, you rarely see it on sale, because it’s fragile and doesn’t keep. It’s also a strong, natural dye (and is used as such). If you pick your own, expect stained fingers and watch your clothes. In fact, if you’re staying near a mulberry tree in fruit,…

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The Cistercian Convent

March 20, 2019

The Cistercian convent of the Holy Trinity at Buenavista in Breña Alta is surprisingly new. It was founded in 1946, and it’s the only closed order on the island. I was surprised to find out that there are only ten nuns who live there. The convent has a small shop. I first went there about ten years ago, in search of a rosary made of dragon-tree seeds, for a Catholic…

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Rabbit’s foot fern

Close up of the root of Rabbit's foot fern, Davallia canariensis
November 16, 2018

This is the Rabbit’s Foot Fern Davallia canariensis, which likes to grow in the warmer and damper parts of the island. It particularly likes dry stone walls, barrel-tile roofs and cliffs. As you can see, the name comes from the root, which is very pretty. I believe that the Awara used to make gofio from it, and so did more modern Palmerans when there was nothing better available, although I’m…

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Gofio

September 2, 2018

Gofio is sort-of cooked flour (you toast the grains before you grind them) and it’s been a staple of the Canarian diet since pre-hispanic times. In principle, you can use just about any grain, although the commonest ones are wheat and maize. In times of famine, there’s even a fern root you can use, although I believe it’s very bitter, and not something you would chose to eat if there…

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