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.
I would really love to tell you about probably one of the best days of my life that happened during my Galápagos trip. The last day on our cruise was just extraordinary, and continues to make me smile when I think about it now. In the afternoon we took a panga boat near ChampionIsland to snorkel. The water reflected a beautiful blue and the sunlight shone through, making the water clear and easy to see what was below. We followed a current down the side of the island, and it seriously looked something out of Finding Nemo. There were colorful sea stars, schools and schools of brightly colored fish varying from little Mullets to large Parrotfish, penguins, and sea lions. The sea lions were so friendly it was difficult to keep the GalapagosNational Park requirement of six feet away. The marine life was absolutely phenomenal! After the best snorkeling I have ever done, my snorkeling group returned to our boat and we began to near our ship. As we approached the ship, two of my friends who had already returned yelled down to the panga “Lindsay! There are whales!” In order for you to appreciate how great this is you must first understand that I really, really love whales. I think they are such magnificent mammals and love how big and beautiful the different types are. In the Galápagos right now it is not whale season, and I knew that coming in; however, I was really hoping that a few did not get the migration memo, and I made sure to check the water periodically during the cruise. During the cruise they also said there was a channel where whales could be, only encouraging my search, and my friends teasing me for constantly watching the water (which was beautiful, and I would have done anyways). With that being said, I thought my friends were joking when they called down to the boat, but then our boat driver turned our boat and started towards where they were indicating from the deck. Our guide did not believe me when shouted as enthusiastic as a child on Christmas morning: “they’re Orcas!” but after watching them follow along the coast of the island of Floreana, they continued to demonstrate their beautiful white and black Orca markings. I still cannot believe how blessed I was to be on the panga at the right time to be able to go and see the whales up close. Not that I needed ANYTHING else to make the day any better, but my last day was so memorable. Later in the afternoon, a pod of dolphins graced us with their presence by passing the ship. At night, I finished packing early and went up to the deck and watched a shark come check out the lit area from the ship’s light, and as if I was writing the end of my day myself, a shooting star ended the day as we were stargazing.