Ecuador has some special and delicious food, and I am sure that many countries in South America have similar dishes, but even from Quito to the Coast of Ecuador, the plates has different variations. Here are my extensive descriptions of all the wonderful food I have the option to consume on a regular basis.
- Local Ecuadorian restaurants typically have an “almuerzo” or “merrienda” (literally translated lunch or dinner) that will cost no more than two dollars beginning with soup and juice, and then a plate of rice with a piece of chicken, fish, or egg, and some combination of lentils, salad, or French fries. I have been very fortunate to not have any sickness from food, and when I have travelled on the weekends, I usually have the almuerzo or merrienda because it is filling, delicious, and two or less dollars, -can’t really argue with that.
- Rice in general is considered a staple to most meals, and potatoes and fresh vegetables and avocadoes often show up as well. Cilantro would be the favorite herb to flavor foods with, especially in soups.
- Ceviche in Ecuador is also really good if you like sea food and cilantro. If you have not had it or heard of it, ceviche is a cold soup with almost the consistency of a pico de gallo salsa consistency with lemon, and your choice of fish or shrimp. It is also often topped with tostadas -a toasted kernel of corn, banana chips, or popcorn. Now that I am describing it, it probably does not sound that appealing, but it really is, and it is especially delicious on the coast with fresh fish.
- There are also many indigenous foods in Ecuador, and the yuca plant which is similar to a potato would be one of the more popular foods. It is very common to have pan de yucca, bread consisting of cheese and yuca, or tortilla de yuca which could be compared to a hash brown of yuca and cheese.
- Empanadas unique to Ecuador are the empanadas del viento, an empanada with cheese in the middle and topped with sugar. The empanada del viento is often ate with morocho, the Ecuadorian “arroz con leche,” a warm mixture of corn kernels, milk, and cinnamon. Again, it maybe does not sound very appetizing, but trust me, it is. My host mom showed me how to make both the empanadas del viento and morocho, and I plan to continue to make both when I return home.
- Batidos, made in homes and sold on the street are the Jamba Juices of Ecuador. Batidos are fresh fruit smoothies or juice made from the fruit you choose and cost usually around one dollar without any questionable additives.
- Ecuador is an exporter of coffee, but sadly, instant coffee rules most households. Probably because it is not as expensive, and Ecuadorians take a daily snack break at some point in the day to have instant coffee or tea, and a piece of bread from the bakery.
- Canelazo, is a traditional drink for Ecuador, and (I think) Colombia. It is warm and tastes somewhat like an orange, cinnamon tea, but with alcohol added.
- Cuy, this is only food that I have actually not had. Cuy is guinea pig, and it cooked on an open grill, the entire animal, and it is on a stick. Cuy is considered a special treat, and apparently has a good taste. As much as I would like to be adventurous and say I will try it, I am not yet convinced, seeing as I have a hard time eating chicken when it is on the bone.
I am fairly certain I have just successfully written my longest post, and of course it is about food…but hopefully it can give you a little bit more of a taste of everyday Ecuadorian culture.