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Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Joy of Almuerzo

Now for something a little bit lighter. Having spent the last month acclimating we've discovered not only the financial pleasure, but truly mouth watering indulgence that is almuerzo.  (This is the Spanish word for in Ecuador it also means a multi-coursed meal, eaten at midday.)  You've seen the pictures, but there's so much more to it.  Sure, it can be'd be amazed at how quickly you adjust to prices.  "What?  $6.50 for almuerzo?  Outrageous!"

Price and quality do not go hand in hand.  Some of our best lunches have only cost $1.50 each. We've also paid more for something way less tasty. We've also been surprised that on the weekend, almuerzos are not always available and you pay per plate...making what we thought would be a $3 meal suddenly $6. (Like this one...still well worth the price, the chicken was delicious!) 

Steamed "choclo" (maize) with salsa roja


Fried chicken, rice, salad and frijoles (beans)

The less expensive lunches tend to offer fresh juice, soup and an entree. Cough over a bit more and you'll also get a small dessert.  Lunches are carb heavy...that's just how they roll here, but I'm still fitting in to my clothes, they might even fit better.  We have yet to eat an almuerzo that was unpalatable.  Soup is an art here...I don't even like soup and I could eat the offerings here everyday.  I don't know what they put in those vats of deliciousness...crack (sorry Rob Ford), pure MSG (I doubt it, I haven't seen any kicking around and they don't hide anything here...not even the chicken feet), or just good cookin', plus salt.  This is not a country for those on low sodium diets. In Quito we had a couple of dinners that were so salt rich we couldn't finish them, but never an almuerzo.  (We were  a bit horrified when a lovely old Ecuadorian lady sat next to us for lunch and proceeded to re-salt everything she put in her mouth. She was about 80 (some small signs of graying hair) so what can you say?  She made it that far.)

Chicken Soup

Pork Soup

Vegetarian Soup

Fish Soup

Potato and fresh cheese soup

Cream of broccoli

There's no end of variety in main courses...chicken, beef, pork, fish, various innards - one specialty here is "guatita", pork tripe in a spicy peanut sauce.  We haven't tried it yet, but it's supposed to be very good.

Fried fish

"Carne" this time meaning beef

Trucha, or trout
Vegetarian entree
Beef, with rice and spaghetti, of all things...sorry I already ate some.
Stewed chicken

Chicken with some creamed maize side
As you can see the variety is endless...if you like filling, inexpensive tasty meals, this is the place for you. (As long as you aren't too picky or have food allergies, high cholesterol or diabetes...) Not to say that there aren't any healthier options, many restaurants offer vegetarian almuerzos or you can order off the menu to get salad, sandwiches and other main dishes, but where's the fun in that?

You must forgive me, I usually forget to take pictures of the juice...and the photo never captures the wonderful combination of flavours that encompass the experience. But here are some examples (I'd tell you the flavours, but I have no idea what they use...I just know it's almost always fantastic, be it hot or cold):

Anyhow, that, in a nut shell, is the joy of almuerzo!  Sorry, I don't have many dessert photos, like the juice, I usually forget to take pictures at the end of a delirious almuerzo high.


  1. Those are very tasty looking lunches, but what about dinners, do you get the same deals, or do you mainly cook at home.

  2. We've only eaten dinner out twice as we're on an abbreviated budget this month, just to see if we can swing it. Dinners are more expensive, but we had a delicious tapas dinner at a very nice restaurant and the whole thing came in at $65, that included a full bottle of wine, so not as expensive as at home.