by The Tapas Lunch Company
From the TLC Blog
I guess this site should not be only about the Spanish meals and recipes you should eat. Occasionally, I should maybe warn you of traditional foods that have not stood the test of time or match current culinary thinking.
I confess that Gofio was for many years a mystery to me. You have to go to the Canary Islands to learn about the history of a dish that was once a mainstay of the local diet, but is now considered to be old fashioned and, by some people at least, positively bad for you. Today's local chefs were not first to come up with that theory.
Indeed those who, in centuries past, conquered the islands thought Gofio to be disgusting and they looked upon it with contempt, refusing to eat it
You see the inhabitants of the islands at that time had no concept of how to bake bread. They had no walled ovens and yeast was a stranger to them. Instead the method they used of processing harvested grain saw them roast clean corn in an earthenware dish over an open fire. Then they would ground it by hand between stones.
The product they produced was something like wholegrain meal and had liquid stirred into it, forming a paste that was then eaten. Bingo! You have Gofio. The tradition of making Gofio survives among the older residents of the Canary Islands.
The fact that it could be kept for long periods of time was a big advantage to stone age hunters and gatherers. As was the ability to make even the poorest quality grain edible once it was roasted.
Just as well stone age man was not concerned about his figure. Gofio is not for those on a diet. It is very calorific but, on the plus side, it is filling.
For centuries it was the mainstay of the Canary Island culinary scene. The wholegrain meal was mixed with water, pork fat and wine. The more upmarket version also included chopped almonds or locally produced goat's milk - another traditional Canary Island ingredient we've written about on this site.
These days you'll find it in the more rural parts of the Canary Islands. It's been handed down through farming families for centuries. Today you are unlikely to find it on a restaurant menu. The chefs and owners have a similar opinion of the dish as those who first conquered the islands. Gofio will no longer be held up as a standard bearer of Canary Island cooking.
You would have to order in advance, or make a special request, for dishes such as Gofio con chicharrones (gofio with pork crackling) or Escaldón gofio (a gofio based broth). If you want an old fashioned gofio pudding, where it is combined with milk and honey, you'll have to ask an elderly member of a rural community to knock you up such a dessert.
But you will find it available for sale in bags and containers, fairly widely, throughout the Islands. It is more often used as an ingredient rather than a meal in itself. Some locals of a certain age say it is rich in vitamins and minerals.
But doctors on the islands tell people locally to stop eating Gofio, or only do so in moderation. They say it is high in carbohydrates and is not easily digested. But it is still eaten on some of the islands.
I have to say if given the option of eating big bananas from the Canary Islands, or a plate of Gofio; you'll find me peeling those fine locally grown examples of the fruit.
You'd have to be bananas to choose the gofio!