One of the highlights of my month-long stay in Ecuador was the food: fresh, healthy, and packed with flavor. Here are a few memorable dishes.
BREAKFAST: Fruit salad
This salad at Napolitano Apart Hotel in Baños (central Ecuador) was enough to get me out of bed each morning. It had bananas, apples, mangos, and pineapples, and was served with yogurt, granola, and a little honey.
Seemingly simple, it was a stand-out dish thanks to the combination of textures and flavors: crunchy granola vs. soft fruit pieces, mild yogurt vs. the sweetness of the honey.
LUNCH: Ceviche de palmitos
I don’t get to eat ceviche often, because it’s typically made from fish and I’m a vegetarian. Luckily, I found several places in Quito that served a veggie-friendly version of the dish.
Tianguez Café Cultural on Plaza San Francisco had hearts of palm ceviche, which came with avocado, plantain chips, and roasted nuts. It was spicy, yet refreshing at the same time, thanks to hints of citrus.
DINNER: Soup – Locro de papas
This was by far my favorite thing to eat in Ecuador. I love potatoes, cheese, and avocado, and the stew has all three ingredients (pictured here is locro at Achiote in Quito). It’s a filling dish, perfect for cooler evenings.
Its origins date back to pre-Colonial times, and the word locro comes from ruqru or luqru in Quechua, an indigenous language spoken by several ethnic groups in South America.
DINNER: Main course – Llapingacho
Another traditional dish I enjoyed was llapingacho – potato patties stuffed with cheese. They are usually served with pork, fried egg, and vegetables. My meal at La Negra Mala on historic Calle la Ronda included avocado, lettuce, white corn, sliced plantains, queso fresco, and tomatoes.
Because they cakes are made from mashed potatoes and fried on a griddle, they are smooth on the inside and crispy on the outside. Delicious.
DESSERT: Ice cream
When I walked by Heladería San Agustín in Quito’s Old Town and saw that it had been in business since 1858, I couldn’t resist. The shop is currently a full-service restaurant, but I wanted to try their specialty.
The ice cream was some of the best I’d had since gelato in Rome. There was nothing artificial about it, just strong flavors and delicate, sorbet-like texture.
ONE MORE THING: Juice
I can’t talk about Ecuadorian food without mentioning freshly-squeezed fruit juice. When I arrived in the country, I discovered that it was an important part of almost every meal.
Restaurant menus often listed orange, pineapple, and blackberry, as well as flavors I had never tried before, e.g. tomate de árbol (“tree tomato”) and guanábana (soursop). And when I lived with a host family during my volunteer program, we often had naranjilla and strawberry juice.
Perhaps I should get my juicer out of the storage…
What are the favorite dishes you’ve had when traveling? Would you try any from my list? Share with me in the comments box!