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Culinary Adventures in Ecuador: The Pleasure of Eating in a Foreign Country

January 18, 2019

Let’s be honest, food is one of the greatest ways to study a culture! Traditional dishes, snacks, desserts or drinks – culinary adventures are one of my favourite fields of study as an exchange student at Universidad Casa Grande in Ecuador!

I mentioned in another post that Ecuadorians eat a lot of rice and meat. The typical almuerzo (lunch) is juice, soup, and a main plate of rice and meat for $3 (yes, that’s how cheap you can eat out!) but let’s have a glance at the culinary variety one can find…

Ceviche
I do not really like seafood but this cold bowl of fish and onion in a lemon broth changed my opinion. What goes on top varies according to region. The Manabí version is with avocado, peanut cream, tomato sauce and chifles (plantain chips) that you crumble over it. I promise it tastes better than it sounds!

Chifles
Chifles are a great snack and available in all sorts of flavors: from natural to picante (spicy) to ajó (garlic) to Ceviche as you can see them here. They are plantain chips and provide a pleasant taste of subtle sweetness and salty crackers.

Coconuts
Where ever you go in Ecuador, a place selling fruit and/or jugos naturales (natural juices) and batidos (milkshakes) won’t be far. What I enjoy particularly are the little street stands that cut open a coconut for you and hand them over with a straw. If you manage to drink all of it in one go you can ask to split it and spoon out the jelly pulp for you. I used to not enjoy coconut, but after trying this Ecuadorian delicacy I was forced to change my mind.

Cuy
Sorry to all vegetarians but yes, guinea-pig is a traditional dish in Ecuador and once you get around that roasted head on your plate it is delicious!

Ecuadorian Chocolate
Did you know, that cocoa beans are one of the main export products from Ecuador? I didn’t but I put it on my bucket list to eat my way through the local chocolate selection. There is quite long list of flavors that I never tried before: quinoa, lemon grass, Andean blueberry…

Empanadas
It is a type of fried or baked pasty typically filled with chicken, meat or cheese and found in many Latin American countries. Personally, I could eat them every day. Special variation: Dough made not from grain but verde (type of plantain used for cooking).

Encebollado
This nourishing fish-onion soup is every Ecuadorian’s pro-tip for a Sunday morning hangover…

Fruit and Waffles
Waffles might not be the most typical breakfast in South America but they go great with the typical fruit, juice, coffee and egg! There’s no place like the beach-town Montañita for a good breakfast.

Locro de Papa
A delicious creamy potato soup mainly eaten in the Andean regions. Similar to many other dishes in Ecuador it is accompanied by avocado and cheese.

Sweet & Coffee
It is the Ecuadorian Starbucks, it is what Tim Hortons is for the Canadians. The coffee place you find on every corner and still you hardly ever get around waiting in line. It is a little pricey but the cake is very good (mind, indeed sweet though) and the majority of the coffee variations are also available as cold frappés.

As you can see, I have an overview of unique Ecuadorian food. Of course, what you find here is an incomplete list and there is still so much to discover! I am excited to find and try more exotic fruit as well as sample unfamiliar dishes on restaurant menus. To everyone out there staying in a foreign culture, I would highly recommend to constantly try new food! Because food and culture, they are really they same, aren’t they?

Mixed Ecuadorian plate with patacones (fried plantain), carne (meat), camarón (shrimp/prawns), guacamole, ají and choclo (corn)
Mixed Ecuadorian plate with patacones (fried plantain), carne (meat), camarón (shrimp/prawns), guacamole, ají and choclo (corn)

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