Contrasts that go together and taste even better
When we leave familiar territory, we begin to look for new connections. Not only while eating or drinking, but also in life.
I love to travel, and when I can't, I dream about it. I must have inherited it from my father. My father dreamed sometime in his youth that he wanted to leave Vienna to travel as far south as he could. And that's what he did. With the first money he earned, he first went to France, then to Spain, and when he then reached the southernmost tip of the continent there, instead of returning to Vienna, he bought a ticket in the port city of Cadiz with the last money he had, got on a ferry and reached the Canary Islands after a few days (at that time there were no charter flights like today, and if there were, they were very expensive).
Once there, someone told him that further down south - if you draw an imaginary line to the North Pole - the first thing he would find if he decided to travel on would be Antarctica. So at first he thought about it for a moment. After a few days he got to know my mother on the beach, they fell in love, although they were like day and night, and a little later, as it was appropriate in strict Catholic Spain at that time, he married her, and stayed there until today, where both live together.
They fell in love, although they were like day and night, and a little later, as it was appropriate in strict Catholic Spain at that time, he married her, and stayed there until today, where both live together.
But my father's desire to travel did not diminish. It simply turned into a passion for culinary discoveries within the island. He took us to every restaurant or tapas bar in town that could have something new or interesting so that we could try everything possible. And there was a lot of variety. In this sense, my hometown, and the island, is an interesting place. Apart from what the sea gives and because of the high mountains (almost 2000 m altitude and up to almost 4000 m on other islands of the archipelago) there are many microclimates. There - from pears and apples to avocados, bananas, mangos and papayas - almost everything is cultivated. On this island, which is only sixty kilometres wide and sixty kilometres long, 15 different recognised cheeses are produced.
Gran Canaria is also known as a "continent in miniature" because of its many contrasts. Landscapes that would otherwise not fit together in our imagination are half an hour's drive away from each other.
The island also lies in the Atlantic Ocean between Europe, Africa and America. The capital is decisively shaped by its port, which is one of the largest in the Atlantic. South Americans, Indians, Lebanese, Scandinavians, and English had settled in Las Palmas and brought their culinary traditions with them.
One of my favourite restaurants, a Uruguayan Asador called Novillo Precoz, is certainly the reason that I think I could never be a vegetarian.
Las Palmas was also the first city in Spain (and the second in Europe after London) to have a Japanese restaurant (Restaurante Fuji opened in 1967).
Las Palmas was also the first city in Spain (and the second in Europe after London) to have a Japanese restaurant (Restaurante Fuji opened in 1967). The reason for this was that the port was an important base for the Japanese fishing fleet at the time (the fishing areas were off the coast). Whenever my grandmother from Vienna came to visit us, we took her to this restaurant in the harbour district to frighten her. My grandmother had big eyes when Toshihiko Sato, the Japanese owner of the restaurant, showed up and filleted Toro tuna or a living Dorada and gave us raw food (at that time nobody thought too much about Anisakis).
The fish was fresher than many things that arrived at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, and Toshihiko Sato cooked many of his dishes with vegetables grown on the island, mainly the crews of the Japanese ships (for whom he had even developed a sophisticated catering service). There was also avocado with raw fish and soya. And not because it was hip, but simply because there were avocados and fish, and they both tasted so good together. Even if it wasn't necessarily considered traditional Japanese. Conceptually contrasting, but harmonious in taste.
From these many contradictory tastes and situations, from the curious relationship of opposites, I learned that sometimes the hidden harmony can be more powerful than the obvious.