Navigation Pages

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Trip to Ecuador - Part 3 Food!

Food is always an interesting and subjective subject. One man's manna is another's swill - so to speak.

There are certain truths that exist in Ecuador. It isn't one of those countries blessed with an adventuresome palate. The indigenous population has never felt the need to augment their basic food supply with tons of spice or over the top flavour. Now, that isn't to say that there isn't good food here. Sure, their favourite "spice" is salt, but Ecuadorian chefs are masters at soup and fried chicken. (You heard it here first!) 
Pasta with Kale and Peppers
On the coast there's tons of seafood; especially corvina (a catch all phrase for a bass like fish that comes in many sizes. Ceviche is sold here, but by law, the fish needs to be cooked and cannot be just cured in citric acid, so it doesn't have the same texture as Peruvian ceviche. 

Cuy is a food for celebrating here and can be quite pricey. Word of warning: the guinea pig is often served with its head...the incisors can be quite off putting, as are the little burnt ears and blackened paws. Besides that, if you get it from the right place, it's quite delicious.

Play find the head!
Chancho...or better known as roasted another treat. Often served with a mashed potato/cheese pancake and a salad of onion, lettuce and carrot, this dish is pretty awesome. The crisp skin and slow cooked meat is hard to beat. (Cuy is cooked the same way and you get the same crispy skin.)

Beef is a tough one here...literally. While you can get decent (and even excellent) beef, more frequently it is pretty tough. Why, you might ask? Because they don't age the meat usually. That old joke about cutting the horns off and running it through the frying pan...well that actually happens here (kind of). Aging is a critical step in breaking down the meat fiber and if the beef isn't cooked low and slow or under pressure, it resembles old shoe leather. That being said, I've had some pretty amazing steak here, but the chef's know what they're doing or import meat from places that do.

There is also a wealth of fruits and vegetables. Where the vegetables get to, besides in the soup, is a bit of a mystery to me. The traditional style almuerzos (two/three course lunches) usually only have a mild nod to rabbit food. The fruit usually winds up in juice, which is almost always super tasty, as well. 
Vegetarian Almuerzo Option

Of course, the capital, Quito, has a really good range of foods, if you're willing to splurge a little to get them. (That's a relative phrase here, as you can get a fairly solid almuerzo for $2.50.) Cuenca's food scene is eternally developing and more restaurants are opening that focus on flavour and quality ingredients as opposed to  cheap and fast. This is a good thing, but the Cuencano palate is generally geared towards blander foods, so the restaurateurs have their challenges.

All this being said, don't be afraid to go out and try bollos (stuffed and fried plantain balls), maduros (ripe plantain with fresh cheese), empanadas, ceviche and skewers of meat fried street side. A must is to try salchipapas - hot dogs on fries usually with all sorts of toppings like ketchup, mayonnaise, salad and other things - it's the snack of champions here

No comments:

Post a Comment