Gofio is the traditional staple food in the Canaries, like potatoes in Ireland or rice in Japan. It’s made by toasting cereal grains and then grinding them. You can use almost any cereal: wheat, barley, rye, maize, oats. You can also use lentils, chick peas or lupin seeds. My personal favourite is the 7-grain wholemeal variety.
It’s such an important part of Canarian culture that I wasn’t surprised to find out that there’s a gofio museum on the island. It’s in an old windmill at Buracas, the bottom end of Las Tricias.
I thought I knew about gofio, but I learned a lot.
La Palma seems to be one of the very few places in the world where people once practised agriculture, and then stopped. When the Awara arrived in 200 BC they grew barley. By the time the Spanish arrived in 1491 they didn’t. Instead, they collected wild seeds to make gofio, including wild Tangier peas and amargante.
I also learned that toasting the grains before you grind them is done in other parts of the world, especially where firewood is scarce, as you need less of it for gofio than you do to bake bread.
More on the windmill itself in my next post.