Semana Santa or Holy week is celebrated by Catholic nations across the World, including Fuerteventura, Spain and the rest of The Canary Islands. So what kind of foods are they and what do they look and taste like?
Traditionally, abstinence of certain foods, such as meat, was often adopted in most households during Holy periods and this has led to the creation of some delicious traditional Easter dishes. Many of them are well worth trying, so here are a few that you may want to look out for whilst you are out and about in the resorts.
Buñuelos de Bacalao
This is a very traditional dish which is often eaten during Lent and especially on Good Friday. Salted cod fish is soaked in water overnight to soften it and the water is changed regularly to help wash out some of the salt. Then, the fish is then flaked off the bone and mixed with flour, egg, garlic, onion, saffron and baking soda. This dough-like mixture is then deep fried really quickly, so that it swells to form a fluffy little dumpling-style ball. Once the dumplings have turned a nice, golden brown colour they are drained and served. These are absolutely delicious and have a slightly crunchy outside and a soft and creamy inside. And, with so much fresh fish and salted cod fish available her in Fuerteventura, are one dish that you really should sample.
Las Patatas Viudas
One dish that is popular in the Islands and across mainland Spain, not just during Holy week but throughout the year, is a dish that consists of onions, garlic, bay leaves, potatoes and paprika. This is usually mixed with all sorts of meats or fish and served in a simple terracotta bowl drizzled with olive oil. It is a simple yet delicious spicy potato-based dish that can be enjoyed anytime, but as meat was not allowed to be eaten during Lent, people began making the dish without the fish and meats added. This new vegetarian version is now called Las Patatas Viudas, which actually means Widows Potatoes and is often eaten around this time of year.
La Mona De Pascua
This is an Easter cake that is made using flour, eggs, sugar and salt and takes quite a time to make as there is a lot of kneading involved. It is quite dry in texture and originates from the times the Moors settled in Spain. The name ‘La Mona’ comes from the Arabic term ’munna’ which translated means ‘a provision of the mouth’ and was traditionally made by the working Moors and given to their masters as a gift. In some regions today, family members make these cakes and shape them into either a round or child-like figures and cover them with chocolate. Traditionally Godfathers would gift them to their God Children on Easter Sunday, symbolising that the period of Lent and abstinence was over.
Tortilla de Camarones
This dish comes from the Cadiz region in Spain and uses seafood, instead of Cod, and in particular shrimps as its core ingredient. These consist of little flour cakes which are made using parsley and onion. They are then stuffed with little pieces of shrimp and deep fried. They look similar to onion bahjis or potato fritters when cooked and they have a jagged and frayed appearance. Once they are really crispy, they are served piping hot and enjoyed as a snack in most tapas bars.
El Potaje Vigilia
This is a really thick soup that resembles a stew in its consistency. It is normally consumed on the Friday’s of Lent, as its main ingredient is, once again, salted cod fish. It is stuffed full of cod, chickpeas, white beans or legumes, spinach, bay leaves and other spices and cooked using a simple one-pot cooking technique. This dish can be found in tapas bars and is sometimes available as a part of the Menu del Dia or Meal of the day.
At the end of Lent, when meat is back on the menu, a quick snack-style food is often the flavoured choice, especially amongst those who live in the countryside. The Hornazo is a type of hard bread, similar to that of a pie crust, that is stuffed with sausage or chorizo, bacon and hard-boiled eggs and then baked and eaten, hot out of the oven. This traditional dish dates back to when eggs were still considered a meat, and were therefore off the menu during Lent. But, as the hens didn’t follow the churches rules and continued to lay eggs as they usually do, this meant there was always extra eggs lying around, which naturally the farmers did not want to go to waste. So, they would collect them all up as usual and then hard boil them to give them a longer shelf-life. Then, once lent was over, they ate their supplies buy stuffing them into Horazo’s and enjoying them whilst out and about.
Arroz con Leche
This dish is very basic yet delicious and is made up from, as you can probably guess by the name, rice and milk. It is a very similar to traditional English versions of rice pudding and is sweet and aromatic thanks to the cinnamon, vanilla and orange peel are often added to give this pudding extra layers of taste. It is made in the same way that rice pudding is made and simply baked in the oven and served piping hot.
This is a very easy and popular dish, which is similar to French toast. Dry chunks of bread are left out to harden for a few days and then soaked in milk. Once sodden, they are then covered in egg and fried in olive oil until they are golden brown. Often, they will then be dipped in sugar or cinnamon or drizzled with honey. They are delicious and perfect for any time of day. Watch out though, as some recipes vary and in certain areas of mainland Spain Torrijas come with a powerful chili kick. Some also get smothered in sweet desert wine or drizzled with a liqueur, such as anise.
This dessert tastes a little like a cross between a pancake and a doughnut, but don’t think of the ring or jam doughnuts that we are used to seeing on supermarket shelves. These are made with a thicker dough and shaped by pulling the outside edges inwards towards the centre, similar to making a wrap. They are then deep fried in olive oil and sesame seeds are added for a savoury flavour or honey, sugar or lemon used to make a sweeter version. In some parts of Spain, the middle is nipped in and a bow added for decoration. They are then given away to family members as gifts.