Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cactus and Cochineal

I decided to do a post on Lanzarote today just to remind me what sunshine looks like! Needless to say it is windy ( galeforce) and wet here in Ireland.The photos are of the Cactus garden in Gautiza in Lanzarote and the surrounding cactus growing area.The cactus garden was designed by Cesar Manrique, the artist and architect who was born on Lanzarote. He helped to protect the island from the ravages in the name of tourism through which other islands and parts of mainland Spain became high rise horrors during the 70's and 80's as they catered for the mass market tourism boom.
A view of the inside of the cactus garden which was designed from an old quarry, Cesar believed in working with the landscape and using what was there.There are about 1,000 species of cactus here, all shapes and sizes from flowery to furry!
The planting was done by Estanislao Gonzales Ferrer, an eminent botanist who collected species from the Canary Islands, America and Madagascar.There is a huge metal cactus at the entrance to the garden which is situated in an area where the cactus has been traditionally grown in gardens and farms which stretch away to the base of the volcanoes.
What has all this to do with Cochineal which is a cookery colouring?
The cactus is grown for no other purpose than to provide a home for the Tunera beetle,which when their crushed larvae is collected from the plants becomes the red food colouring known as Cochineal!
There was a thriving local industry here until a chemical substitute was developed.The industry faded away and then it was discovered that the chemically produced colour did not produce the rich long lasting colour that the Tunera beetle did.
There is now about 300 acres devoted to the cactus and it is still being used in products like Campari, quality artist paints and expensive designer lipsticks!
This photo is just for me! It is a view of the old harbour in Puerto del Carmen, we sat out on a beautifull sunny day at a waterside restaurant and watched the boats and the world go by.

3 comments:

W. Latane Barton said...

So that's where that red color comes from. That was a surprise. Thanks for 'educating' me and it was fun, not a bit painful. lol

Darla said...

I have heard about the red coloring coming from bugs, interesting and icky!!

Lynda said...

Thanks for sharing some more lovely holiday photo's with us. I found it fascinating reading about the beetle/Cochineal as I never knew that - very interesting !