If you have never been to Tenerife before, you may not have heard this curious word, guachinche. Well, learn it by heart because it is not possible for you to travel to the island and leave it without eating in one (or several) of these picturesque places.
You might be wondering why these places are so special, what you can eat in them… and even what they are. Well, if you want to discover every detail, you just have to keep reading: there are many reasons why they must be a mandatory stop on your tour of Tenerife.
What is a guachinche?
Nowadays, a guachinche is a family establishment in which the owners sell their wine until it is sold out, and accompany it with traditional Canarian dishes: escaldón de gofio, chickpeas, ropa vieja, corncob and ribs, rabbit in salmorejo sauce, cod, fried horse mackerel…
For a few years these establishments have been regulated and their gastronomic offer is more restricted than that of restaurants, which began to complain because the lack of regulation and the popular success of these premises had a negative impact on them.
You should also know that there are guachinches that buy wine from others when theirs are used up to remain open longer, so you can find them all year.
They are usually very picturesque and unique places, each one is different. Part of their charm is that tables and chairs are normally different, as if they had been rescued from here and there, as well as the canopies covering the area if the guachinche is located in a courtyard.
A little history…
As some owners with many years of experience say, the origin of guachinches goes back to the dances or parties organized by many farmers to sell their wine directly to people (whether they were from the area or visitors) without having to resort to any intermediary.
Thus, they met in the farmer’s house, in a living room or another large room, and with their own products or those of neighbors, a typical dish was cooked and eaten accompanied by wine.
In addition, different musicians entertained the evening with handmade instruments and boys asked girls to dance under the watchful eyes of their mothers.
It is said that guachinches were the places where people paired off and where they had to go to find a boyfriend or girlfriend to the rhythm of traditional songs and around good food and better wine.
I’m watching you!
Apparently, the English expression “I’m watching you” is the origin of the word guachinche. Anglo-Saxon buyers used it to let farmers know that they were ready to taste and buy their products, and they understood “Is there a guachinche?”, a stand or stall where they could try them before choosing what they wanted to buy.
Others say that the term comes from the word bochinche, still used today in the neighboring island of Gran Canaria as a synonym for commotion or confusion.
Nothing more authentic than guachinches
Possibly there are few more authentic experiences, if any, than enjoying a guachinche in Tenerife. Local people love these establishments and visit them quite regularly with family or friends and usually during the weekend. For them it is a way of maintaining their traditions, incorporating them into their day-to-day life and not allowing them to be lost in favour of another imported gastronomic culture and probably of worse quality.
In most cases, these places remain as they were in their origins, very cute family and meeting places located in rural areas, where you can taste delicious typical dishes and good local wine at a very good price.
Where to find a guachinche
Surely that is what you are wondering at the moment: “Ok, but where can I find a guachinche?” Well, it is not complicated at all. The entire north of Tenerife is riddled with them, and you will surely find more than one on your visit to the towns in the area. They are usually located, above all, in the surroundings of the areas with greater wine activity.
Although to a lesser extent, there are also some guachinches in the Güímar Valley, and you can even find some of them in the capital.
What to order in a guachinche
Maybe this is another question that comes up, what to order. Well, that may depend on your tastes and in many cases it will vary from one place to another, although in general, as you know, traditional dishes from the Canary Islands are always offered.
Typically, you eat well regardless of what you order, so you can ask waiters to suggest what dishes to try or ask for the speciality, if any. If you go in a group, a good idea is to order a portion of each and thus concentrate on a lunch a small tour of the typical cuisine of the archipelago.
And, of course, wine is the thing that cannot be missed. In fact, it is usually the only thing that can be drunk in a guachinche apart from water. It will be of good quality and will combine perfectly with what you decide to eat, that is for sure.
You will want to come back…
The island will captivate you for many reasons and you will surely want to see again the impressive landscapes of the Teide National Park, to take a bath in its wild and paradisiacal beaches, to visit once more its charming villages… and to eat again in a guachinche, of course.
They are the perfect example of tradition, the essence of the local culture and a cozy place to remember the time when the islands lived from agriculture and livestock. They are, in short, a perfect opportunity to know the purest Tenerife.