La Palma, also named “La Bonita”, is known for her Jurassic wild flora, black sandy volcanic beaches, and for delighting the visitors at night with one of the purest skies in the whole Northern hemisphere. It is also one of the steepest islands in the world: the top of its main volcano raises above sea level up to 2423 mt.
Biodiversity thrives here, also thanks to its blessed position in warm latitudes swept by the fresh Atlantic breeze, almost always blowing, being at the entrance of the Trade Winds route.
The island got worldwide famous last year due to the major eruptions of La Cumbre Vieja, which lasted for several months and severely impacted the inhabitants of the island and its wildlife. Growers, farmers, and producers have been struggling in such harsh environmental circumstances but the local solidarity made it possible to cope with the situation and get over it.
We landed on the first island of the many we will encounter during our trans-Atlantic voyage: La Palma, on the Canary Islands. Last years’ cook, Sabine, who has lived on the island for many years, linked me up with lots of small-scale producers. It was great getting to drive around the island and picking up the fruit and veggies direct from them. What a provisioning dream this island is, such a great selection of locally grown produce, including things that are specific to the Island. I tried Yuca for the first time and surprised all the crew with this unsuspecting root vegetable. They look like brown sweet potatoes but have the texture of water chestnut and taste like sugar cane! I added them into salads during the crossing which was delicious. They kept for about a month. I also tried Tomatillo, they look a little like plum tomatoes and also grow on a vine, however, the skin is thicker (and a little bitter) but the taste of the fruit inside is really strong and tropical. These fruits are sturdy and I saved them till at least two weeks into the crossing, they were a nice surprise to pull out long after the rest of the more tropical fruit had been used up.
I also enjoyed buying passion fruit that I would add to fruit salads and to ‘refreshing beverages’ that I would sometimes make and had out to the crew in an extra effort to keep them hydrated.
Being this the first time that I provisioned for a big crossing I was for sure carrying some newbies anxiety. I probably over-bought on some things, and maybe under-bought on others. However in the end the crossing went well and we still had plenty of fresh food by the end. I think another week could have gone by and I would have been able to keep the meals at a good level of freshness and interest.