Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ecuador 10

On the second day here in Ecuador, I broke the program rules and ate food on the street. Not just any food, mind you, but probably the riskiest one I could've chosen - Ceviche (raw seafood and veggies 'cooked' in lemon juice). and... nothing happened. of course. actually, it was deliciouse.

Ever since then I've been on a mission to find and eat as much ceviche as possible. Last week, my abuelitos (grandparents) sent us some conchas (shellfish) from the coast, a species native to ecuador, with a black flesh and salty black juice inside. I thought we were going to make ceviche out of them, but we ended up just making Conchas a la Plancha (grilled). You grill them till they open up and then squeeze in some lime, add a sprinkle of salt, and eat them right out of the shell, juice and all. You can also put the juice in your rice, like i did, to soak up the wonderful briney flavor. They were probably the best seafood I've ever had...

But my family, being awesome, was not to let me down on the Ceviche front. This sunday they prepared 2 types of ceviche, one in a Peruvian style (just lemon and salt) with pescados (fish - tilapia and corvina), and shrimp, and a second, Ecuadorian style (tomatoes, less lemon) with shrimp and onions.

There was also tostada and choclo (toasted and boiled corn kernels) to accompany the Peruvian version, and homemade chifles (plantain chips) and mayo as a snack.

Needless to say, they were AWESOME. I even had seconds, trying to please Mamita, and although I couldn't finish my seconds and got chided, she can't say I didn't try.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ecuador 9

Comida de la Calle parte dos.

As I've said, I love the Panaderias (bakeries) here. Ecuador is a fresh bread eating culture, and the Panaderia al lado de CEDEI (where I'm studying) is not something to resist. Here is a typical Pan de Dulce that comes topped with sugar and filled with a sweet and tangy cheese. Best eaten warm.

Here is another deliciouse thing which is... actually i'm not sure, but it was chocolate. Think sugar stuck together with condensed milk, like the consistency of cookie dough, topped with frosting... Yeah.

Yesterday for lunch, I went on a solo mission in the centro and ate ate a small restaurant called El Toque CosteƱo (the touch of the coast) which specializes in seafood and dishes typical to the coast. Here is a DELICIOUS bowl of Sopa Marinera which was a rich seafood broth with hints of peanut that was literally overflowing with crab, shellfish of 3 types (in shell), fish, octopus AND squid. Top that with pickled onions and peppers, plantain chips and lime, and... DAMN! good eatin'

And speaking of good eating: we went to Gualaceo today, a pueblo known for its gastronomia. A reputation well deserved. Here is an awesome little plate of the local specialty Hornado, which is a whole pig roasted for hours. They torch the skin to make Cascara which is like the crunchiest, tastiest potato chip you've ever had, and this and the juicy meat come served over Mote along with Llapingachos which are small patties of mashed potato and cheese and then fried.

As if that wasn't enough, I also enjoyed some other local specialties like Tortillas de Choclo. Tortillas here are more like pancakes and are slightly sweet thanks to the corn and cheese.

Another specialty in Gualaceo are Quesadillas, which like tortillas, are something completely different in Ecuador. Think a small mound of sweet cornbread in a pastry-like envelope.

And, finally, fried dough balls topped with sugar, because...well, because.

Ecuador 8

More of Mami's wonderful homecooking: But this picture is of Huyana Capac, the last great Inca

She makes her own soup every day - from scratch. Here; probably the best Chicken Soup i've ever had.

And wonderful lunches like Pescado Frito. Plus every meal is better with fried plantains

Later that night she made me some Choclopillo which is fresh corn kernels stir-fried with scrambled eggs and onions. Oh, and a piece of fried fish because she's trying to engordar me.

What was really special this week, though was the homemade Morocho. Morocho, again, is a thick, milk-based drink, made with rice and sweetened with sugar cinnamon and cloves. You drink it with empanadas like the one shown here, una empanada de verde, which is made out of green plantain and stuffed with chicken. Probably the best salty-sweet combination ever, next to peanutbutter and jelly.

And lastly, rice and beans for a very typical but satisfying latin american dinner.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


You might think that with the huge lunches and the constant efforts of Mami to engordar me (fatten me up), that I would have no room for snacks.
You would be wrong. I love snacks.

This will be a running and updated list of the choisest snackage to be had here in Ecuador.

First up, my favorites: Fritos (fried plantains)! These come in both salty Verdes (green plantains) y dulces Maduros (ripe plantains)

These are two others of my favorites here. Roasted and salted Lima Beans, called Avejas, and also Tostada which is roasted and salted mature corn kernels that I can only describe as inside-out popcorn. Tostada can also come coated with sugar, and is called Kaka de Perro, no translation needed. The TANGO is a plain old chocolate covered sandwhich-cream cookie.

These were good. Imagine cheetos, but flavored like fruitloops and coated with sugar. Doubles as a cereal.

They like roasted beans/peas/anything here. Here are some roasted chickpeas, Picante flavor.

Cookies are also a big deal. They have caramel-filled oreos, but also sanwich-creams filled with Galak - the white chocolate of ecuador. They also really like Amor wafer-creams. Here is a version filled with peach yogurt. Oh, and yes, that's a red banana. It's sweeter than the yellow ones and only one of many varieties here.

Here is another Ecuadorian favorite, though not a favorite of mine. Balls of popcorn, stuck together with Panela- unrefined sugarcane sugar. The flavor of molasses with none of the crispiness of caramel corn...

People in this country are also crazy for ice cream, and while I'm here, I've decided to go with it. The local place is called Tutto Freddo, just along the central Plaza. They have probably around 60 flavors ranging from tropical fruits to chocolate made with real cocoa. Here's a picture of their brownie sundae - a warm brownie topped with banana split ice cream (my choice) and caramel sauce. More ice cream porn will follow.


Ecuador 7

Amazon there and back again this week. Here's some of the food I had along the way.

Mami sent me off right with a proper breakfast; Humitas y Huevos. Humitas are like tamales, only slightly sweetet - imagine a dense cornbread.

We stopped at a military base for lunch. Apparently they eat well. Carne con Menestra, Papa, Arroz y Ensaladas. (steak with bean stew, rice and potato (of course) and salads of carrot, beats and cucumber)

For dinner I had Ceviche de Camarones, and although I'm pretty sure the base was made out of ketchup, it was pretty good nonetheless.

I found some street food for lunch the next day in Macas. Here is Encebollado, which is a hot, spicy and tangy tomato and onion stew with potato flakes and chunks of pescado (fish). You eat it with limon, popcorn and chifles (plantain chips).

Dinner that night was in the jungle, but by no means rouging it. Smoked pork with spears of deep fried yucca which are like the best french fries you've ever had. Also an avacado and tomato salad- all served on a banana leaf.
Lunch the next day was a ham sandwhich and fruit on a banana leaf, and the next day was pasta and fried plantains on a banana leaf. I just think it's cool to serve stuff on a banana leaf.

After returning to Macas from the Jungle, I had one of my rare cravings for red meat and found a nice bar that had Carne a la plancha (grilled steak) and Yuccas Fritas for only $4. Cannot beat that.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ecuador 6

Some good old home cooking Ecuadorian style.

Asked Mami if we could eat some seafood.
She answered with Arroz con Pulpo: Rice sauteed with Octopus in its own ink with scallions and egg.

Came accompanied by a bowl of Beef Stew with Corn, a Tomato and Pepino (think cucumber crossed with melon) Salad, and a Passion Fruit Mousse for dessert.

Another day we had Stewed Hot Dogs over Rice with Sweet Plantains, and then Sugar Cane for dessert.

A SOLID breakfast, but perfect after a night of Aguardiente was Tigrillo; Green Plantains panfried with eggs, cheese and red onion.

And then there was the day of Rafa (my cousin's) birthday. Meat. Lots of meat. There were beef ribs, pork ribs, sausage and a beef tenderfloin about 3 1/2 feet long, all cooked over a charcoal grill. Not to mention Mote and Boiled Potatoes with homemade mayonnaise and homemade hotsauce for dipping.

And then, finally, today, there was crab. Sunday is a day for crab, because although it is delicious, it is a lot of work and takes a good hour of whacking to make a meal of. The crabs are an Ecuadorian species (of course) and are cooked in a big pot with sweet plantains, onion, garlic, cilantro and salt. Then it's just a matter of whacking and pulling out the meat. You don't gather the meat on the side or anything; you just eat it right away. It's salty, slightly sweet, flaky, and well, good. The coolest part? You take off the top of the shell and scrape all the fatty brains and stuff together, put in a couple of spoonfulls of tomato and red onion salad with lemon and chopped plantains.