Having a local with you does help to really get to know the country (3 weeks in Ecuador) and especially their local food. Whatever they told me to try, I did try. So here is my journey through the Ecuadorian cuisine.
A few hours after my arrival I got to taste a drink called Canelazo which is an hot alcoholic beverage with naranjilla juice and aguardiente which is a sugarcane-based drink. Especially popular in Ecuador during Fiestas de Quito, when they drive around the town with a little bus, dancing to music and drinking canelazo. Later that night we bought an Empanada de viento which they translated to Patty of Wind, I am not too sure about this translation though, but it is a big patty filled with white Ecuadorian cheese and topped with sugar.
Let us start the day with desayuno – breakfast, for my first breakfast in Ecuador we went to la hacienda Molino San Juan where I tried homemade manjar or also known as dulce de leche with some bizcocho and tomate de árbol juice. Different to Europe which also has sweet breakfast they prefer salty breakfast and even eat soups for breakfast. While in Alausí my friends had the typical farmer breakfast which is rice, chicken and egg. Or soups like encebollado mixto with fish and shrimps adding tostado and chifle (green plantain chips) to it, which is a typical dish from Guayaquil. Another typical breakfast from there is Bolon con queso which we had at el café de tere.
Of course, they have different fruits and veggies than in Europe, which also means they have a different kind of juices. Whenever travelling especially outside of Europe I love to go to the supermarket and just walk through the fruit and veggie aisle to see all the different things they have. Here some of the fruits and veggies I found: Naranjilla, Tamarillo – tomate de árbol, Taxo, Babaco, Guanábana, Pitahaya, Guayaba, Tuna, Pepino, Granadilla, Uvilla, Achotillo and Mora. And some of my favourites juices are with tomate de árbol, maracuya or naranjilla. Don’t hesitate to add some fruits or veggies I forgot so that I can try them next time 😉 Not sure if this is a thing but we had pan de yuca (similar to pão de queijo in Brazil which I looooooveeee) with some kind of milkshake made out of the mora berry. The juice out of mora is really really sweet.
Cheese, green plantain and corn;
Cheese everywhere, really everywhere! They love their white cheese and eat it with nearly everything like in already mentioned Empanada de viento, with corn or even in their hot chocolate like chocolate ambateño. Another form of a cheese dish would be maduro con queso which is cooked banana topped with cheese and salprieta (toasted corn and toasted peanuts, mixed with finely chopped coriander, dried oregano, salt and black pepper). A speciality in Guayaquil is bolon con queso for breakfast best at El Café de Tere. One small one is enough as it is super heavy due to all the cheese.
Still, at el Café de Tere you can try another speciality from Guayaquil Tigrillo, which is a combination of green banana with eggs, cheese. Which brings us to another thing Ecuadorians love and eat a lot, any form of banana or green cooked plantain. You have them mixed into dishes like tigrillo, on the side as chips, grilled or on topping off your ceviche or encebollado or as the main like maduro con queso.
Ecuadorian cuisine has also loads of different corns and different corn dishes, like mote (corn kernels that have been boiled and cooked, which are served peeled) and tostado which you will find in the dish carne colorada which is meat, potatoes, banana chips or fried banana, mote and tostado, an empanada, avocado and I had veggies instead of the meat. Another corn-based dish is humita a steamed corn dough or bonitisimas which are corn patties. One of my favourites is choclo with cheese and ají.
Fish, crab based meals; the best known will be ceviche which is a cold soup with fish and or shrimps, crab and conche, you can have it with one or two of these options or a full one with everything. Perfect during the next day after going out or how I did it, after coming home still drunk from the club.
Similar yet different is encebollado which you should try in Guayaquil; I tried it with fish and shrimps which you can top with chifles etc after your own likings. You should also definitely try conche, I did not like them in the ceviche but rather have them just cooked in their own juice and some lemon.
Ají; is a hot sauce made out of tomatoes, hot red peppers, onions and cilantro (find the recipe here) which they add to nearly all their meals including encebollado, ceviche, corn, etc. etc.
Ecuadorians love their beers if its the big national brands or artisanal beers. I was surprised that during my first lunch the whole family had a beer (everybody was overaged obvs). A habit I got used to really quickly especially being half German 🙂 On the other hand, one that confused me was michelada; beer with lemon, Tabasco, salt & pepper. The waiter realized that I did not like it and gave me a regular beer. My friends told me this is the kind of drinks you have to drink a couple of times until liking it.
While our trip to the Wayuri village we got to try chicha de jora which the indigenous drink to every meal, it is a fermented (alcoholic) or non fermented based on grains or maize.
Aguardiente Antioqueño which is actually from Colombia but this is what people my age or younger drink on a night out. I tried it and did not like it.
Even though it is quite cold especially around Quito, they still have typical ice creams like helado de salcedo, the typical one has the flavours cream, naranjilla, mora, taxo, and more. Another ice cream helados de paila, which is prepared in a big bronze bowl the original one is with morra but now you can find a lot of different flavours.
You might have realized that a lot of (meat-based) meals are missing here, the reason for that is that I do not eat meat hence I did not try them. I would love to try cooking some vegetarian versions myself though so if you got or know a blog with vegan Ecuadorian food let me know 🙂 or any nice meals I gotta try next time and/or vegetarian places.
If something is missing in here or you want more specific info, let me know as well so I can add it. In the meantime, if you are into food just as much as I am don’t miss out on “Do you only travel for food?” which is about Italian food and my favourite place to eat in Rome, Oh Sicily, your food is heaven! that says it all and The food isn’t that bad here about how the food in Cambodia surprised me.
More travel-related posts which usually all include food as well (if they did not get their own food post) are here like: “Finding my true love” – Brazil and A few days on São Miguel, Azores, Portugal