One of the pleasures of Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, if not the Canary Islands, is the pleasure of eating out and the good food to be found.
Wander around Puerto de la Cruz, and you are lost for choice. From the bars, to the restaurants, to the tables and chairs outside.
For the sad English, for people with absolutely no taste whatsoever, there is even a McDonald's by the seafront.
With the exception of McDonald's, these are all small family-run businesses, not a chain in sight.
Tapas bars though are few and far between.
A specialty of the Canary Islands is mojo sauce, hot and spicy, and available in two flavours – mojo verde (green, olive oil, vinegar and garlic plus coriander and parsley for flavour and colour) and mojo rojo (red, olive oil, vinegar and garlic plus red peppers and chili for flavour and colour).
Another specialty of the Canary Islands is Canarian potatoes, papas arrugadas, small dark potatoes boiled in their skins in very salty water, left to dry, and then served whilst still hot, usually in a separate earthenware dish.
My friend who grows them on his farm high up the mountains, says they originate in the Andes.
Travelling around, up at a higher level than the banana plantations, and you will see potatoes growing on every available plot of land, if it is steep, it will be terraced, even in narrow gorges, you will see potatoes growing on terraces not much bigger than a back yard.
That in fact is one of the problems, potatoes grown year after year on the same plot, chemicals used as the answer to loss of fertility and the buildup of pests. Crop rotation and organic farming seems to be an alien concept, though the message is slowly slowly getting through.
The Canary Islands owe a lot to Christopher Columbus. It was from South America that potatoes, tomatoes and maize came. The Botanical Gardens in Puerto de la Cruz were used to acclimatise the plants that came back from the voyages, a half-way house between South America and Spain.
Potatoes were introduced to the Canary Islands from Peru in the 1600s, and there are around 23 varieties. You can even find King Edwards in the shops, but these are usually imported from Lincolnshire in Eastern England.
At sea level, banana plantations, that is where the plantations have not been displaced by tourist developments. The bananas are small and far far better than those imported into Europe from the Caribbean and Central and Southern America.
Tenerife bananas, platanos, can not be imported into Europe, as they fail the EU standard size for bananas. Yet another example of the crass stupidity of Brussels and why the EU should be dismantled.
A little above the banana plantations, vineyards, Tacoronte being an important wine area.
Tenerife wine can be found in a few shops, but mainly, the vineyards are small family affairs, the wine is consumed by friends and family, or goes straight to the restaurants. Yet another reason to eat out.
Potaje, a soup cum stew, consists of potatoes and vegetables. Add meat and it becomes rancho canario, add more meat and it becomes puchero.
Spanish favourites, dishes like paella and tortilla (potato-based omelette), can also be found.
During La Carnaval, a large kiosk appears in the main square, and by the harbour a couple of stalls serving food. These are open during the day and early evening.
Locals tend to eat late. The restaurants during the day and evening serving tourists, then late at night, locals. During La Carnaval, you see will family and friends going out to eat at midnight if not later.
Many of the bars, serve food just as good as the restaurants. Try Jamaica, if you can find it. A bar frequented by locals, and almost devoid of tourists. It is found at the foot of a housing complex, amongst a little cluster of bars and shops, not far from Hotel Florida.
The food in the big 4-star hotels just does not compare with the food to be found in the bars and restaurants. That in the small 3-star hotels is generally better.
The big tour companies would do everyone a favour if they offered bed and breakfast in their brochures, not restricting the choice to half board.
The emphasis is on meat, poultry, seafood and fish. Tough if you happen to be a vegetarian.
El Limón though more than makes up for this lack of choice. A vegetarian restaurant to be found two streets behind the main church. The food is excellent. If not eating, try from the vast choice of freshly prepared fruit juices.
For afternoon tea and cakes, one of the best kept secrets, is a small tea place up by the casino, overlooking Puerto de la Cruz.
Good as they are, the many bars and restaurants in Puerto de la Cruz, even better are the bars and restaurants down little side streets in out-of-the-way villages up in the mountains.
In addition to the bars and restaurants, are the many little supermarkets and fruit and vegetable shops selling fresh fruit and vegetables.
There is nothing like this in England. One of the rare exceptions is Upton Park in East London, where the main street Green Street is lined with independent shops, restaurants, and at least half a dozen fruit and vegetable shops. By the Tube Station, Queen's Market, a century-old under-cover street market. The local mayor, in his stupidity, wishes to destroy the market for a superstore!
The best place for fruit and vegetables in Puerto de la Cruz is the Market, Mercado Municipal. Up the main street from Hotel Florida. On the first floor, in the mornings, can be found fruit and vegetables, plus cheese, plus bread. There is now also a stall selling organic produce.
Try tomate ensalda, very large, very tasty, nothing like the watery tasteless Beefsteak tomatoes found in supermarkets in the UK.
On a Saturday, the market is full of stalls, on the ground floor and up on the roof. Anyone can turn up with a stall, and everyone does. Lots of rubbish, but some good stuff too, including a stall selling some excellent freshly baked bread. Like, but vastly superior to, a car boot sale in the UK.
During La Carnaval, a van can be found on the side of the harbour selling excellent jamon serrano (dry-cured ham) and a very good selection of cheeses. Ask nicely and they'll slice you off a sample.
If you do not know what to eat when out or wish to play safe and not be confronted with a large choice, ask for el menu del dia or el plato del dia. El plato del dia in El Limón is always a good choice.