Inching ever closer to Central America, you can start to see some Caribbean influences coming into play in Ecuador’s cuisine, like the love of plantain, tropical fruits and fish. However there are still the regular South American staples like corn and potatoes, but presented in more inventive ways. Slightly less fatty than other countries, Ecuador’s food remains hearty if a bit samey. Here are some of the country’s classics:
Delicious fried potato pancakes, these bad boys are served for breakfast a lot in Ecuador, but are also found at dinner time alongside fried eggs, avocado and chorizo. An excellent, artery-bursting meal.
2. Seco de chivo
The most traditional of Ecuador’s stews, seco de chivo is goat stew, and is really tasty if you can tactfully avoid breaking your teeth on the hidden bones! It comes with rice and salad and sometimes a chunk of bone marrow if you’re lucky.
3. Locro de papa
Hearty soup that’s often found as a starter on cheap set menus, made of potatoes and onion with huge chunks of avocado and white ‘queso fresco’, or hard white cheese, floating in it! Comfort in a bowl.
(left) Aforementioned spongey corn, but this time a bit sweeter, wrapped into a longer vine leaf (distinguishing them from their Tamales buddies) with the cakey addition of raisin. Right on the sweet/savoury border.
8. Poncho de leche
A traditional drink of Quito, the thick custardy drink consists of many eggs and milk, warmed up, with a LOT of added sugar and cinnamon. Kind of comforting, kind of weird!
So we got a bit hooked on plantain during our time in Ecuador. As the world’s second biggest banana exporter, Ecuador has their banana-like cousin, the plantain, in abundance. And this surplus means they’re one of the cheapest things you can eat! Bolones are balls of plantain and white cheese mashed together and fried…
… And patacones are delicious crispy discs of plantain, fried to perfection. Think of them as the lovechild of yukka fries, home fries and sweet potato wedges. They are just SO GOOD. Roll in salt and gorge.
Weirdly, Ecuador is known for its pizza, and we had our best pizza on the road here (in your FACE Argentina!) They make it crispy, toppings-heavy and super fresh. Oh, and with LOTS of mature cheddar cheese. Delicioso!
12. Batidos de mora, jugos de tomate de arbol
Ecuador is a country that loves blackberries, and they make a mean blackberry milkshake. There are also tons of more adventurous fruits to try in milkshake or juice form, like guayaba (a sweet white juice) or our favourite, the tangy but fruity tomate de arbol (tree tomato)
Like popcorn back home, but served like you would rice or salad, as a garnish to meals or soups or a little aperitif. They also have a dizzying array of pre-packed popcorn, and an snack corn, which is like hard salted sweetcorn kurnels. Are you getting that they love corn?!
14. Pulpo, ceviche and encocado
Like sopa marinera, these are more of a coastal thing, but I had some truly delicious octopus on the Pacific Coast, chopped into wonderful creamy garlic sauces. The excellent South American ceviches continued to wow with plenty of coriander, peppers and high-grade fish. And encocado – which I’ve had one before in Costa Rica – was amazing here. Huge prawns in a creamy coconut sauce. Divine!
15. Chicken feet – soup or street food
Often found in the starter soup in a set meal, we also found these in a few places, fried as street food. Despite being a bit grossed out, they did actually look pretty juicy and crispy, and Sam assures me they were delicious!