Since the Neolithic period, many civilizations have ground cereals for better use in daily meals. Different methods were adopted for their preparation, giving way, over the years, to products like unleavened bread, leavened bread, couscous... or Gofio. We know that all civilizations have consumed very diverse cereals in a variety of ways. Abigail offered David toasted flour cakes at Mount Carmelo; Virgil makes us see Aeneas instructing his companions, on the African beaches, to toast grain and later grind it between two stones (Aeneid, I).
Gofio is a food we inherited from the pre-Hispanic history of the Canary Islands and it is one of our gastronomic signs of identity. It was called Gofio on the islands of Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, while the inhabitants of Tenerife called it Ahoren.
Before the colonisation of the Canary Islands, Gofio or Ahoren were made from different cereals like barley, wheat, peas or beans. These were toasted in clay recipients, and ground between two basaltic stones.
When the colonizers arrived, the variety of cereals was increased: corn, brought from the New World, and rye, brought from Europe, started to form part of normal production.
The nutritional properties of Gofio, its easy elaboration and low cost have made this product part of the Canary Islands history and gastronomy. Its presence during difficult times, like the Spanish Civil War and post-war period, was indisputable and providential. The hunger suffered by many Canary Island homes forced the inhabitants to prepare Gofio using slenderleaf iceplant, crystalline iceplant and even fern roots. But that helped that rickets was not suffered in the Canary Islands; the illness that did affect the rest of Spain.
Currently, Gofio is not only present in Canary Island haute cuisine dishes, but also in all homes. It is also prepared and used in Argentina, some regions of Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Venezuela and in some regions of Africa.