By Briana Seftel
Ok, so you have Quito, the Galapagos and the cloud forest...what could be missing in a trip to Ecuador? The food! Blessed with a varied climate, Ecuador produces a bounty of ingredients that translate into delicious dishes. Get to know these eight traditional foods that will have you saying "¡que rico!"
Literally meaning "cooked with onions," encebollado is a typical fish soup found everywhere in Ecuador, from the countryside to the coast. Most often made with albacore tuna, the soup is simmered with onions, yuca, tomatoes and topped with everything from pickled onion to choclo, a type of crunchy corn. Encebollado is considered an aphrodisiac as well as a hangover cure!
Locro de papa
It's no secret: Ecuadorians love potatoes. There are over 200 types of potatoes grown in Ecuador including the yellow cholo potato which is used to make the popular locro de papa. Cooked until the potatoes are achingly tender, milk is added to give the soup its signature creaminess. Topped with mild cheese and avocado, it's the perfect dish to eat in chilly Quito.
Empanada de Viento
"Wind empanadas" are an amusing (yet still delectable) snack found all over Ecuador. Stuffed with cheese, fried, and sprinkled with sugar, these savory and sweet empanadas can be as big as a chihuahua. The empanadas got their name because they are mostly filled with air!
Peru may lay claim to ceviche, but Ecuadorians can certainly hold their own when it comes to citrusy seafood. Shrimp is the seafood of choice in Ecuador, and is usually quickly quicked in boiling water before bathing in its lemon or lime bath. Served with patacones (fried green plantains), ceviche makes a great light meal.
This one is for adventurous eaters. Cuy, or guinea pig, is a very common meat in the Andean regions of South America, especially in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. Much larger than the guinea pigs in the U.S., Ecuadorian cuy is fried whole and served with fries and salad. The rich-tasting meat is high in protein and low in cholestrol, so go cuy crazy!
Fritada con llapingachos
Fritada con llapingachos is a mouthful to say and eat! Literally meaning "fried," fritada usually consists of fried pork, boiled corn and llapingachos - small corn cakes stuffed with cheese. You may also see it on the menu as "fritada de chancho." This is one Ecuadorian dish everyone will love.
With its tropical climate and fields upon fields of cacao plants, Ecuador ranks as one of the top cocoa producers in the world. It's also one of the oldest producers - archaeologists recently discovered traces of cocoa in pottery that's more than 5,000 years old! While in Ecuador, the best place to sample high-quality chocolate is in Quito.
Pan de yuca
A popular snack in Ecuador, pan de yuca is a cheesy, springy bread made from the yuca (cassava) flour. Eaten as an appetizer or with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, these little cheesy balls are irresistable! Versions can also be found in Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia.