“Grinding is an art”

“Grinding is an art”

The gofio is the foundation on which Canarian cuisine has been built in each house. From breakfast to dinner passing through the confectionery and also beginning to sneak into the most posh tables, including haute cuisine.

In essence, a humble toasted cereal flour what’s wrong with it superfood dyes and that is present in dishes as typical as milk with gofio (rare is the Canarian house that does not start its day like that), escaldón, giving a polish to a watercress stew or a Canarian stew or, when we get a sweet tooth, with the sweet adventure in mousse, ice cream and cookies.

Beyond its energy and nutritional power, the gofio begins to wake up under the impulse of small artisans who reactivate traditional milling, in the same way that in the peninsula the stone mills also live their particular resurgence.

Here we have to talk today about Cristina Mendoza, native of San Sebastián de La Gomera, and who has become a prophet in his land since Molino de Gofio Imendi by winning two years in a row the Best Gofio of the Canary Islands award (in 2018 and 2019), although they are not the only medals to his credit.

A plus ultra of the flour – although in essence, the gofio is a cereal grinding – in which he has been immersed for 18 years when he decided to park his work as a computer administrator, where he spent five years after taking the Business Informatics module and throw himself into his milling adventure.

Accompany you his mother Doña Isabel, who was the instigator of this change from keyboards to grinding stone, and Celestino, her husband, who combines their plumbing jobs with a concern for the field that leads them to recover small plots to plant millet (corn) local.

From having no relationship with the mills to the Olympus of gofio

Cristina Mendoza, on the left, with her mother, Doña Cristina Herrera, in Molino de Gofio Imendi.

Cristina’s little and confessable secret is, in turn, one of the reasons why her gofios are of high quality. “The truth is that I didn’t like gofio when I was little“, is sincere when we visit his mill, in the upper part of San Sebastián de La Gomera, the capital of this small island of just 22,000 inhabitants, located west of Tenerife.

Doña Isabel smiles when asked about the irony that now her daughter does eat it, although evidently she only bets on those that she grinds herself. This is how a family has grown that started with a single mill and producing around 50,000 kilos per year around a thousand, the gofio most in demand in La Gomera.

The Mill Gate And Some Of Its Products Plus The Medals Achieved In Different Championships

The mill gate and some of its products, plus the medals obtained in different championships.

“Now we are at 200,000 kilos and we have two mills, both of stone, that are part of the secret of our gofio “, indicates Cristina when she presents her facilities where practically everything has a handmade component.

“When we opened in 2003 we were looking for old mills that had closed because we wanted to recover that type of gofio, which is not industrial, because grinding gofio is an art “, he clarifies about a task that is not limited to grinding.

The importance of fire and a coffee restlessness

Photo Refreshed Millon

They converted a coffee roaster for their cereal. In the image, Cristina refreshing the already toasted cereal.

The big difference between gofio and flour is not in the texture or in the ingredients (it can be made with a lot of cereals and legumes), but in the previous step: the toasting. “If it’s not cooked, it tastes raw, that’s why it is roasted before grinding“, he comments.

However, Cristina’s dissatisfaction was not only roasted, but also to seek a differential and friendly way of not subjecting the grain to a powerful fire. “When industrially roasted, the cereal is passed through steel tubes that blow the grain and burn it“, he comments.

“That makes the gofio very toasty, besides more bitter“, she regrets, and also what forces us to add more sugar or mask the flavor when we consume it, part of the reasons why she did not take communion with this ingredient when she was little.

“We have turned a coffee roaster into our gofio roaster. For about 20 minutes we toast the cereal in small batches with temperatures ranging from 160º to 180º “, he continues.

“As you go around, the roasting is more uniform and more subtle, not burning the cereal “, he considers. From there he already passes to the two mills that dominate the room and through which all the cereals pass that he will later label as Gofio Molino de Imendi.

From mil to wheat and from gluten free al gofio with IGP

The varieties of Gofio are very wide, from some with a single cereal to others with a mixture, generally milled wheat and oats.

The varieties of gofio are very wide, from some with a single cereal to others with a mixture, generally millet, wheat and oats.

“We started with the wheat one and then we went on to the millet, which is the one that is consumed the most in La Gomera, but we also make other cereals such as wheat and also mix [uno de los top ventas es el de millo, trigo y avena]. Until we have one without gluten, only of millet, which we grind in a separate room so that there is no cross contamination and which is guaranteed as suitable for celiacs “, he confirms.

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Thus the sacks of cereal that enter through the tiny door of the mill are gathered in a huge cold room. “We have them cold because that way they do not lose properties, they do not dry out and suffer less. Not everyone does, but we believe that is the best to ensure quality“, he confesses.

Photo The Difference Between The Left Millo De La Gomera And The Right Peninsular Corn

Millo de La Gomera (left), thicker and more irregular, compared to mainland corn.

The millet of La Gomera (of which they barely receive 5,000 kilos per year) is the gourmet flag that they presume to “close the circular economy and give value to the local producer”, but “the difficulties in sowing are many because you cannot use a tractor”, due to the steepness of the terrain.

Other cereals such as corn or rice also come from the peninsula, while wheat is of French origin because “this one in particular has little husk and a lot of grain.” Something necessary for a product, the gofio, which is around 10% reduction in grinding and that furthermore, it cannot be integral.

“It is not a flour as such and it is consumed raw, so the taste of the whole would not be pleasant to the palate“He argues. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, of course.” We had a client who brought us his cereal and asked for it to be whole grain. In that case, when you added it to the milk, the gofio went to the bottom of the bowl and the shell stayed on top“, he comments.

Slider3 1 Scaled

The gofio should be slightly ocher in color, evidence of toasting, and its texture should be compactable, but not extremely mealy.

“Is about leave it fine, but not very fine, and that it is neither thick nor totally like flour “, clarifies Cristina, who emphasizes on the quality of” natural stones that are more than fifty years old and that are very demanding in their care “.

“When freshly minced it can grind up to 100 kilos an hour, but if it is not, it will grind about 70 kilos “, he explains. Freshly crushed stone? What are we talking about?” With a steel punch we have to make small lines in the stone so that the gofio, which is the already ground flour, do not accumulate on the stone, “he says.

A superfood with instructions for use

Around 75 grams of carbohydrates for every 100 grams of product. 8% fiber and another 8% protein, In addition to being low in salt and having hardly any fat, they are the nutritional standards with which the gofio presents its candidacy for healthy food, but we will not focus only on the dietetic and yes on the gastronomic.

When it comes out of the mill and the sieve, the gofio is soft and compactable, forming the classic gofio pellets that are easily crumbled.

When it comes out of the mill and the sieve, the gofio is soft and compactable, forming the classic gofio pellets, which are easily crumbled.

The usual thing in gofio is to consume it raw and, if it is cooked, the flavors and texture are appreciated. Therefore, it is not surprising that when a canary adds a tablespoon to watercress stew, do not dissolve it, habitual failure that we peninsular ones commit.

The same thing happens with milk with gofio, like the one that teaches us Sixto Ramos in the small family farm in Echejelipes, where they make fresh goat cheeses under the name Quesos de Plácido. “It’s about leaving lumps, not that it dissolves completely, “he says.

Gofio Cookies From Casa Efigenia C Casa Efigenia La Gomera

The gofio cookies from Casa Efigenia. © Efigenia La Gomera House.

That slightly thick gofio profile it is also part of his pastry charm. This is how they attest to the Casa Efigenia restaurant, an icon of traditional Gomeran cuisine in the municipality of Las Hayas, near the entrance to the Garajonay Natural Park.

There the cookies are made as ordered the canons of Efigenia Borges, matriarch of this house and followed by her son Sergio Mendez, who is committed to using Cristina Mendoza’s gofios. “It is a mixture of millet, wheat and oats that we order from him on purpose,” says Sergio.

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Then just mix the gofio with olive oil, a touch of chemical propellant, a pinch of salt and sugar and a generous amount of lime zest. “Having so many thousand it is more difficult to work and knead, but the result is much tastier,” he says. Reason why also the dough should be thicker.

Images | Jaime de las Heras / Efigenia House / Gofio Imendi Mill

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