La Palma, la Isla Bonita
Why visit la Palma
La Palma, whose historical name is San Miguel de La Palma, is an island in the Atlantic Ocean which belongs to the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands.
La Palma, la Isla Bonita or “the pretty island”, has been declared a World Biosphere Reserve and is home to stunning landscapes, unique black sand beaches, and magnificent volcanoes. La Palma is an island full of flavours, covered with banana plantations and vineyards lying on steep slopes.
La Palma hides a great gastronomy tradition. It’s location, so far from mainland Spain, reveals diverse microclimates and its volcanic soil privileges the island with unique products with authentic flavours.
A typical product of La Palma gastronomy is Gofio. It’s a Canarian flour obtained from roasted and ground cereals and starchy plants such as beans, lentils, and rice. It is so versatile in the kitchen. Canarian people use gofio in many dishes, such as milk to enrich breakfast, in ice cream, to thicken soups or to batter-fried food.
Banana is by far the most widespread crop on the island. Nevertheless, local markets offer numerous types of fruit: avocados, papayas, guavas, mangos, oranges, and lemons are some of the most popular.
The conquest of the Canary Islands by the Crown of Castille took place between 1402 and 1496.
Spanish conquerors were seeking an economic sector that would help enrich the large landowners. They decided to introduce sugar cane to Gran Canaria and Tenerife.
In the 16th century, it was also introduced to the island of La Palma.
The high water quality, as well as the soil conditions, give a special touch to the sugar cane cultivated on the island.
Plantations and sugarcane mills brought great wealth, however, they also bore hard work and suffering for slaves, which were specially shipped for this purpose.
With the arrival of sugarcane in America in the 18th century, the Canary Island’s sugar industry was crippled.
Nowadays sugarcane is used in rum making. The Aldea distillery in San Andrés is an artisan rum company that grows sugarcane and practices organic farming.
The history of cheese in La Palma starts with the introduction of pre-Hispanic goats by the first settlers of the island (the Berber).
One of the main characteristics of La Palma cheese is its smoky flavour; the smoker is filled with almond shells, barbary figs, and canary pine. However, not all cheese from La Palma is necessarily smoked.
Cheesemakers tend to use sea salt from the island’s salt pans (the most important of which is in the municipality of Fuencaliente) for the salting of cheeses with a Designation of Origin.
La Palma cheese has a unique maturation process. During this process, in addition to the usual turning operations, it is usually smeared with olive oil and gofio or flour to protect the bark.
We cannot talk about La Palma gastronomy without a special mention of their wines. In general, wines that grow in volcanic soil develop flavours and aromas that differ quite a bit from wines that grow in other types of soils, and the wines from La Palma are no exception.
The Phylloxera, an infestation that wiped out vineyards across Europe, did not affect canary island vineyards; a significant percentage of the island’s vines are over 40 years old, and in the case of Malvasia, over 100 years old.
These old vines growing from volcanic soil, nurtured by the ocean breeze at an altitude that can reach up to 1500m, deliver fruit with a unique essence.
Vino de Tea
A unique wine made in La Palma is Vino de tea. Tea is a type of wood obtained from the Canarian pine tree used to create barrels.
There are two methods La Palma winemakers use to produce Vino de tea:
VISIT A FARM IN LA PALMA
Visiting La Palma island is an uncommon gastronomic experience. Buy local food and support local farmers; the economy of this little treasure in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean would, with no doubt, appreciate it.
Gastronomically based travel is an amazing way to develop tourism. Discover new places and find out how products are made. Good food is simply a reflection of the land that it comes from. Meet the makers!.
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