When I spent a summer in Quito, Ecuador, I was surprised at how many new foods I was introduced to. Between the fruit and the legumes, I think I tried something new every day. The hardest part was remembering all the new vocabulary!
Ecuadorians Love Corn
You can’t eat a traditional Ecuadorian meal without consuming some sort of corn. At Ecuadorian restaurants, you will often get toasted corn kernels to munch on while waiting to order. The kernels are larger than popcorn kernels, and often come salted or smoked. If you order soup, you may also be served a dish of popcorn to sprinkle in your soup bowl. I don’t like my popcorn soggy, but it’s a nice treat on the side. Mote, or hominy, is also a popular corn side dish served with spicy aji sauce. For desert, you should definitely try the cornmeal cake called quimbolito, which usually comes wrapped in green achira leaves.
Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit
Habas are everywhere. They are known as fava beans, field beans, bell beans, or tic beans. They are boiled in salt water, cooked in a pan, or dried and salted. I once found a package of dessert habas that were fried and coated in sugar. These beans are buttery and slightly nutty, and you will find them in soups, as a side dish, or even as dessert.
If you thought you knew soup, think again. Ecuador has a wide variety of soups, each with their own special name. Any traditional Ecuadorian meal will include soup as a starter. You can choose from caldo, which is just a simple stock broth, sopa, which is basically broth with some sort of meat, locro, which has a creamy potato base, or seco, a stew which is usually served with goat or chicken and rice.
Encebollado is a seafood dish served with onion with potato. It is usually accompanied by chifles, or fried plantain chips. If you like seafood, you’ll love ceviche. Ceviche is made from raw seafood that is marinated in lemon, and often served with onion and tomato. My favorite ceviche is made with canned tuna and lots of fresh limes. Ecador has a wide variety of fish, shellfish, shrimp, and squid. If you travel to the coast, you have to try the encocado, which is a marinade of coconut and spices.
Whether you’re a seafood lover or enjoy a hot bowl of soup, Ecuador is an incredible country with a refreshing cuisine.