There can be few gastronomical products known to man that can be used in either sweet or savoury dishes, added to white coffee and stews, toasted, used to make sweet sausages, to create a fake ice cream, spooned into glasses of milk for childrens’ breakfast or used as a bread substitute. Gofio is one of them and whatever you do with it the net result is usually disgusting.

Endemic to the Canary Islands, gofio is milled grain that resembles wholegrain flour. Once the basic food of the Guanches, the original inhabitants of the islands, every Canarian is brought up on the stuff and cannot understand why foreigners would rather eat deep-fried chocolate-coated cockroaches than this exemplar of island cuisine. It is an acquired taste, but one not worth the time and cloggy mouth to acquire. Such is the islanders pride in the product they founded the Canary Island Gofio Producers Association, which has ‘successfully promoted gofio and won it its own quality label ‘Gofio Canario’. After the first mouthful you wonder why.

To illustrate the wide use of gofio, the following recipes should have the saliva glands going hyper.

Paella de Gofio (Lump of Gofio, according the Spanish translation)

Ingredients: ½ Kg of gofio, ½ glass of oil, sugar, salt


  1. Knead the gofio with the water, salt, sugar and oil until you get a thick paste.
  2. Form a cylinder with it and cut into slices.

In other words, oily dough with a sweet and salty flavour.


Gofie Escaldao (Scalded Gofio)

Ingredients: 1 ltr strained fish broth, 1 sprig of mint, ¼ kg of gofio

Method: Place the gofio in a dish with the sprig of mint and slowly add the boiling broth. Keep stirring to avoid lumps.

In other words, a waste of good fish broth.

Perhaps the best description of gofio is found in Paul Richardson’s excellent book on Spain, Our Lady of the Sewers.

Canarian friends of mine had warned me it was vile, and it is. Mixed with milk, it forms a thick sludge that sticks to your palate and has to be removed by increasingly desperate movements of the tongue. It would be like eating wallpaper paste, except that the cloying pale purée is partly redeemed by the toasty malty taste that could be kindly described as ‘comforting’. On the whole, though, gofio is one local speciality I would cross the street to avoid, along with Tibetan yak-butter tea and jellied eels.

Best avoided by everyone other than those who take a gastronomic delight in day-old coagulated salted porridge with lashings of condensed milk on it.