Let’s talk about the form of culture dearest to my heart, the food of a country. Before I leave Ecuador I want to cover what I’ve seen as typical food here. I stayed on the coast, so this does not cover the varied foods of the Andes or the Amazon areas of Ecuador. I did eat one dish I am told is of the Andes region, cazuela de camarone. It was a clay pot of shrimp cooked in a mix of mashed plantains and peanuts in a thick stew that is cooked then baked in the oven before being eaten with rice. It was delicious but rather heavy. I could easily see how it is more fitting in a cooler mountain climate than the balmy coast.
On the coast a day begins with encebollado, an orange stew of chunks of fish and onion. You top the soup with lime and hot sauce to taste. It is commonly thought to be a hangover cure. For lunch it is possible to find almuerzos, or lunch plates. This consists of a soup, a plate of rice with a small bit of meat, and a juice. I am finding almuerzos for a buck or two in this region. Ecuador uses the US dollar as their currency, which is rather convenient. Most plates here come with two forms of starch, rice and plantains or rice and beans. Plantains come in two forms, ripe and unripe. The ones on the plate I believe are unripe ones cooked, smashed and then fried. There are also a few juice stands that let you pick whatever fruits you like to be made into a smoothie. The most interesting fruits I drank were the juicing tomato and the mora, an Andean blackberry. Everything else is rather common in most countries, grilled or fried fish and other meats on pasta or rice. I did have one that was strips of steak covered in a fried egg placed on rice. It reminded me deliciously of loco moco. I also enjoyed a sweet corn tamale off of some guy’s motorcycle. Good to know that tamales are sold out of trunks in other countries too.
My favorite dish of the region has to be ceviche. Raw fish “cooked” by being soaked in acidic lime juice. You can get ceviches of fish, octopus, shrimp and conch here. They are also accompanied by the two types of starch. I most often had them in cabanas next to ocean, sitting under palm fronds with my feet in the sand.
Sadly I’m leaving the country a few weeks before Carlos is slaughtering a pig. One day I’ll be in a small village somewhere to experience this. Good bye Ecuador, thanks for the tasty food. I’ll see you again in a year when I finish my trip in Quito.