wrapping up ecuador

Whew, it’s been a long time since I’ve been here on the blog or in Ecuador! Finishing traveling does not mean more time for blogging, it seems, but less. Regardless, onwards we go.

The food we sampled in Ecuador left something to be desired. Mostly, variety. I will fully concede that we only really tried food in Quito, giving us a very limited sampling. I’ve also been told many times since then that the food in the mountains is the least imaginative to be found. Well then. If I could go back, my first choice for eating would be along the coast – lots of seafood, peanuts, and coconut. How can you go wrong with a choice like that?

We did try some local, interesting dishes. First is yaguarlocro, a traditional soup that isn’t easy to find in restaurants (it’s often only served one day a week in places that do offer it). It starts as a creamy soup made with potatoes and meat, then the ingredients in the back are mixed in – in my case, by me. I assume that sometimes it comes pre-mixed. The bonus ingredients? Avocado, red onions, and – at least traditionally – pig’s blood (it could have been dried pig’s blood that was served to me). It creates an interesting blend of flavours and it something worth looking into if you don’t mind spending a bit more and want to get out the rice-beans-meat dish every night.

Two blocks away from our hostel was a restaurant run by a family from the coast where we were able to sample a small bit of the food we were aching for by the end of our stay. Two dishes were definitely worth mentioning. Maramote was actually a collection of other dishes served together in one bowl – ceviche de conchas negras (black clam ceviche), ceviche de pescado (fish), and viche de camarones (shrimp). They were placed into different parts of the bowl, which was pre-filled with a delicious seafood stock. Wow was it a lot of seafood. This dish was good (especially if you like seafood!), but not a knockout. I think it was the broth – I left that meal feeling very fishy, as that was all that was there. A good meal for when you’re missing the sea.

The other dish, however, took the top prize in Ecuador. Viche de pescado was a creamier soup with hunks of fish and an indescribably delicious blend of spices. We ordered this more than once, returning specifically for this dish. It was complex, it was tasty, the fish fell apart in your mouth, and it was filling. Who can ask for more? Not I!

Lastly, a word on a treat. We found many small stands selling snacks right around the seafood restaurant. Peanuts, almonds, and other kinds of snacks dotted their selling areas, but the biggest sellers were the coconut treats. I think we tried three different kinds of them, all delectable. They weren’t terribly different, although cooked coconut and coated coconut (this is the second) do have different flavours. They made great traveling snacks.

All in all, as I said, the food was disappointing in Ecuador. This was partly our fault for lack of traveling around to try it. However, it did make the good dishes really stick out. I suppose that’s a check in the pro column. Next: Colombia!

6 responses to “wrapping up ecuador

  1. You clearly are the kind of person that does not go any farther than the restaurant one block from the hotel. Disappointing commentary of the best food I have tried in the Americas…

    • I’m sorry you feel that way. I don’t know if you’ve read any other entries on this blog, but we often go our of our way to search for and try food local to every place we go as opposed to staying near the hostel as you have said. I continue to concede that we didn’t get out of Quito much, but we tried to find what we could sample in the city. The opinions expressed were based on food that we ate every day at places where there were always lots of quitaños (is that the right term? I don’t recall anymore), food that was filling and tasty but rather plain as compared to other every-day fair that we had sampled in other countries. We even bought a recipe book of Ecuadorian recipes and while there were a few ones that made it worth it, there were a lot of things that were simply OK.

      I wish we could have sampled more, I truly do, because I had heard some very nice things about Ecuadorian fare. However, the restaurants that we had access to in the time we were there, found through random happenstance, local recommendations, and guidebook references, did not seem to give us what we had hoped for.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the food of Ecuador so much. If you visit here again, could you post some dishes that you enjoyed the most? Maybe some restaurant recommendations? I’m sure people finding this post in a search would love anything you could share beyond my limited musings here.

  2. I have to agree with Luca, it seems that you didn’t prepare for or research Ecuadorian food very well. Your first mistake is eating in restaurants. Any Latino or 3rd-worlder will tell you the best food is sold in the market or on the street. The sketchier it looks, the better it will taste. Also, Quito is not really known for food. For highland food, Ambato and Cuenca are better. For coastal food, Esmeraldas and Manabi is your best bet. If you were in Quito you should have eaten hornado de chancho with llapingachos (roast pork leg with potato patties), which is its specialty.

    • OK, I guess you’re both right. We were limited to Quito for timing and travel reasons – believe me, we wanted to visit the coast and try some of the stuff out there. We didn’t search single-mindedly for markets, staying in Old Town (I don’t know if it’s because it’s more touristy?), but they didn’t jump out at us like in some other cities. Also, all we had was our guidebook, which did say as you did: Quito is not known for food. Oh well, if ifs and buts were candy and nuts…

      If you’ve read some of our other entries, you may see that we try and frequent markets when we can. I realize that I may have given Ecuador short shrift for food, so I guess I’ll have to return and try things again! Thanks for the pointers for next time.

  3. man…some real negative comments..I like that you tried the yaguarlocro! It was indeed hard to find and I never got to try it during my time in Ecuador. It’s supposed to be sheep’s blood, congealed and then fried. Any blood will do though I guess. Another traditional Ecuadorian dish, also a soup and usually served only around easter, is Fanesca. It’s made with Codfish and potatoes and is actually quite good, however salty. Definitely unique…;o)

  4. it was your fault… you had to walk more blocks and try to find more… Ecuador has the most delicious dishes in America…mmm the cebiche and encebollado is amazing.. and el caldo de bolas…is irresistible. yummy

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