About the Food of Ecuador

Until about five minutes ago I was sitting in bed, bundled up in a wool sweater, under a down comforter, eating a candy cane, and freezing my fingers off.  Now I’m packing for Ecuador.

What’s so alluring about Ecuador?

They have it all. The Pacific Ocean. Staggering mountains (complete with active volcanoes disguised as pristine mountain-top lakes) and the Galapagos Islands, themselves made up of volcanoes. There are rain forests, bursting at the seams with wildlife and there are dusty villages filled with tradition. With something for everyone, choosing between bustling city action and rumbling, bumbling country life is just the beginning.

Convinced? Let’s have dinner.

Pull up a chair to the Ecuadorian table and you’ll be met with a carb-heavy spread loaded with potato, avocado, corn, and/or rice – balanced by a fresh salad and tropical fruit. You’ll about pass out when you try Locro [Recipe], their answer to our creamy potato/cheese soup. The South American spin? Locro is seasoned with a tantalizing combination of earthy annato, creamy avocado chunks, and crumbles of queso fresco.

Like many South American countries, Ecuadorians love empanadas. Savory versions include empanada verde, which are made from plantains, mashed until elastic and pliable enough to use as a wrapper. I can’t even begin to imagine how long this process must take. Sweet empanadas are typically filled with fruit and use a standard dough wrapper.

In Ecuador there are two growing seasons for apples, so they not only make their way into empanadas [Recipe], but into fritters and many other treats. Walk through bustling markets and you’ll certainly see neat rows of brightly colored candy apples.

Eggs dishes are common for breakfast, lunch and dinner but they aren’t plain-Jane. Instead, Ecuadorians do fun things like whisking cornmeal or even hominy in with eggs, as in the Mote Pillo. The combination is addictive, especially with a sprinkle of cheese and chives or green onion [Recipe].

Meals can be accompanied by aji, a table condiment, or a warm peanut/annato salsa [Recipe]– great with chicken, beef, and pork… or Guinea Pig.

Photos by Seattle Skier, Martini, KrostoAldo Barba, and Vilseskogen. (CC)


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