After living for four years in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador, Steve and I would often chuckle when people asked us about the food in Ecuador and say, "Have you ever seen an Ecuadorian restaurant? No? Well, there's a good reason." In those days, many meals we consumed outside of our home consisted of a lot of starch (rice and potatoes at the same time), tough meat, and maybe an ear of corn (choclo). We were cautious about consuming raw vegetables, and we only ate fruits with a thick peeling. When I bought groceries to prepare at home, I soaked fruits and vegetables in a disinfectant solution first. But during our recent trip, we had a chance to enjoy a lot of really good food. Here are some photos and explanations.
Typical breakfast buffet in a hotel. Bacon or ham, bread, eggs, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, humita, pastry. Steve liked the "cafe con leche" (1/2 coffee, 1/2 milk).
The coast and the jungle produce fruits galore. In fact, Ecuador is a major exporter of bananas in the world market. This long, green item is a guava. When you cut it open, it is divided into sections. You put a section in your mouth and suck or chew until nothing is left but the large, smooth seed -- which you then take out and discard or plant in the ground.
A very typical lunch would be chicken with a sauce, rice, baked banana, and avocado. An appetizer or snack might be a patacone with a block of fresh cheese or an empanada. This empanada (still warm) was filled with chocolate and strawberries and tasted a lot like a fried pie. So good!
Fish and shrimp are also abundant in the country. They were SO delicious!
This fried trout, rice, and French Fries was a lunch in Cuenca. Steve and I both ordered the same thing, only I put a tablespoon of Aji (spicy sauce) on my rice and was terribly ill later that night. Trust me. No more aji was consumed after that point. :(
Soup is very common and popular in the mountains. This is potato soup (locro de papa). The items in the smaller bowls around it are supposed to be added to the soup, which makes this a very hearty meal.
We were treated to a delicious typical meal prepared by the wife of our friend Gonzalo. She was very careful to choose foods that were safe for us -- chicken, potatoes, avocado, and choclo. I didn't get a photo of the delicious lemon cake for dessert.
In general, desserts in Ecuador have far less sugar that the ones we prepare and consume in the States. The first three below were served in the various hotels where we stayed. The last two show a couple of desserts that my friend Sarah and I enjoyed at a chocolateria in Cuenca. There were so many tempting items on the menu. It was hard to choose.
I usually love Key lime pie, but this one had almost no sugar. Pretty, but not delicious, in my opinion.
A couple of our dinners were multi-course affairs. Here you see a mushroom/spinach crepe, a mixed meat course with grilled pineapple, beef with pasta and vegetables, and an appetizer of deviled eggs with shredded spinach. No, these were not all served during the same meal. Do you see the size of the shrimp below? And, I was sad to not eat the salad, but there were just too many raw veggies in it.
And, yes, when we were in the jungle, our guide demonstrated how to eat the LIVE larvae of a rhinoceros beetle. I'm pretty adventurous, but not with wiggly things. I MIGHT have tried this grilled version if I'd had a big bottle of Heinz catsup.
I didn't take a photo of every single thing we ate, but maybe you can get the idea. We definitely didn't starve during our trip, and many meals were quite delicious.
Next time, I'll share sights from the country.