(click to enlarge photos)
One day my friend Anne and I went to visit a gofio mill in La Orotava.
Gofio is a flour made from toasted cereals which has been a staple food of the Canary people for centuries.
The aboriginal people of the islands, the Guanches, used to grind toasted barley and other grains as well as the rhizomes of ferns into a flour which was then mixed with water to form a nutritious paste.
Later it was made from cereals such as maize (called millo), wheat and barley either toasted and mixed together or ground separately. It has been used mixed with water, milk or broth, and served either as a thin gruel or as a thick mixture shaped into small croquettes and eaten out of hand, in place of bread.
As a food rich in vitamins and minerals it has been a basic sustenance of the Canary people, especially in times of food scarcity, as after the Spanish civil war when many people went hungry. A friend of mine from the island of Hierro says she added gofio to the milk in her baby's bottles. Gofio added to a glass of milk is a common breakfast for many people, as it is considered to be a very healthy food, free of preservatives and artificial colourings.
Here on the islands, one can see gofio served as well in restaurants, either as a small starter for the uninitiated to this food, or as a bowlful with a porridge-like consistency, placed in the centre of a table for members of a family to serve themselves by dipping in their spoon.
The most prized is the gofio which has been hand ground in a stone mill, as the flavour and consistency is deemed the best but there are many electric mills used nowadays. Here is the one we visited, where the miller is overseeing the grinding of the toasted maize.
Here is a bag of toasted maize waiting to be ground:
And another sample of the toasted maiz for visitors to see:
After being ground, the gofio flour looks like this. The miller shows us by taking out a scoop:
Here in the patio outside the mill is an older machine, looking as though it has been retired from service, as is evident from the fern growing out of the top.
La Orotava is such a lovely old town where one can find so many interesting things.
There is always something new to explore around the next corner!
NEXT: My bees and flowers.