Monday, May 21, 2007

TOP 5 alimentos de Ecuador

I recently returned from a trip to Quito + the Galapagos (also part of Ecuador) and of course, I just had to post about the food!

1. Cuy - guinea pig (can be prepared whole roasted or fried. Ours was fried after being cut up). Aaron and I seemed to be the only ones who didn't mind eating it. I thought it tasted like a gamey fried chicken (rabbit-like) with hardly any meat. The skin was so tough it was inedible - I just took it off and ate the meat I could dig up. I don't really eat fried chicken skin anyway (let alone fried things in general). We also saw a live guinea pig a few days later. They're so cute! Like little hamsters... in my tummy.

2. Choclo - this tasted the best toasted ("chumpi," although I'm not sure about the spelling). Toasted, it tasted like corn nuts, except 10 times better! I actually don't like corn nuts, but I had to ask for more at El Pobre Diablo in Quito.

3. Plantains galore - they're basically potatoes here. They come as chips (chifles), fried, grilled, you name it. Plantains are nothing new, but they're just so everywhere outside the US.

4. Llapingachos - these are basically potato+cheese pancakes. With some good ahi (freshly made, not bottled because bottled tastes like tobasco), this side dish is very satisfying. (pictured on the right - the yellow things accompanying the lechon)

5. Ceviche - Ecuadorian ceviche is different than the Peruvian version, primarily that it's kind of like a cold soup. We had a few different kinds, but shrimp seems to be the main attraction in the dish there.

Honorable mentions:
- empanadas: (pictured on left) also good at El Pobre Diablo
- guanabana: I actually don't like this, but I thought it was interesting. In ice cream form, it tasted ok, but that was primarily because the milkiness of the ice cream overpowered the flavor of the actual fruit. Fresh, this tasted kind of nasty... like a cross between a guava, banana, and coconut, but slightly bitter (= nasty).
- tomate de arbol: Erin really likes this fruit, but when I tried the juice I was just left with a really bitter aftertaste. Before the aftertaste, however, it's like a really sweet guava-tomato which was interesting.
- hearts of palm: (pictured on the right - the 2 triangle pieces standing vertically with the shrimp salad) this is very common in salads (even my airplane food had them). They're SO good! The only reason why I didn't put it in my TOP 5 was because they exist in the states (but I had actually never had them until this trip). If you've never had it, it tastes like baby corn, except smoother and BETTER.
- suspiro de limena: it's kind of like a custard+meringue (all the desserts we tried had meringue! Strange). The guy at the restaurant described it as "dos leches," so I guess you can imagine the custard tasting strongly of condensed milk, although according to the link that's not how it's made... so I have no idea! I wish my Spanish was better and I didn't have to rely on confusing google translations.
- nescafe: somehow, they rule Ecuador (alongside other companies like Pilsener and this phone company that I forgot the name of but distinctly remember the logo of). You would think Ecuadorians would drink fabulous coffee, but they all drink nescafe! WTF indeed.

Actual description of my trip will be on travbuddy.

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