La Comida de la Selva
Here´s a rundown on the food we were served when Dave and I spent a few days in the jungle with the Quichwa community of Rio Blanco.
First of all, we got soup with every lunch and dinner. Here are a couple of types. The first is sopa de quinoa con yuca:
Next is masamora de verde, which is the most typical soup of the Quichwa:
For our first lunch, we were served a delicious fried talapia with fried yuca, beans, rice, and salad:
For dinner, we had palmita (heart of palm), which is one of the tastiest vegetables I´ve ever had:
This fish is called chuti in Quichwa. We tasted the babies fried. (That´s Pasquel, el profesor, holding it and Monica and Maxi in the background.)
Our last dinner was a delicious dish of leaves stuffed with hart of palm and chicken (ojas con palmito y pollo). This was truly fantastic--again, I never thought vegetables could have so much flavor.
And, for our last lunch, we had chicken with rice and--of course--more yuca.
Finally, last but certainly not least, is chicha, the beer of the jungle. To make chicha, the Quichwa boil yuca for 15 minutes, mash it, mix it with some old chicha, and then put it in a bucket to ferment overnight. Here is what it looks like in its traditional container:
And here I am partaking (not one to turn up my nose at local culture):
Interestingly, the Quichwa often drink weak chicha for breakfast. The stronger stuff is saved for fiestas.
I have to say that overall I was blown away by how good the food was. I wasn´t expecting all that much, but each meal was hearty and flavorful, complete with soup, a main course, and bananas for desert. I was always satisfied and never hungry after any meal.
La Comida de la Calle
As you all know by now, I love street food. Due to Dave`s reluctance to get sick on his short vacation, I didn´t indulge in as much of it in Ecuador as I would have liked. But here´s what I did get around to.
First, here is Edgar who runs a late night food stand (open ´till 4am) near the Tena bus station. He´s digging into a plate of cow intestines, which he let me try for free (Dave even had to try it against his better judgment b/c it would have been rude to turn down the offer):
Next we have a chicken skewer I bought on the bus. People are always coming onto the buses hawking every imaginable thing. So, I guess this is technically ¨motor vehicle food¨rather than street food...but I think the idea is the same.
Finally, this was technically sold out of a restuarant, but I think $1 shwarma qualifies as street food purely on principle. These were great and I think I ate 4-5 of them in two days while I was in Quito.
Food From Actual Restaurants
Every once in a while I break down and patronize an establishment with a roof and maybe even a health code certification.
Here is some shrimp ceviche I got my first night in Quayaquil:
Arroz con congrejo (rice with crab), also in Quayaquil:
And, this is Wilo´s (our Quichwa guide) favorite dish, ordered from a restaurant called Safari in Tena. It´s called chaulafun, a mix of chicken and shrimp with rice--and it´s quite delicious.
Dave thought the food in Ecuador overall was unremarkable. I´d tend to agree. There was all the usual fast food fare (pizza is as popular in Latin America as the States), and the stuff we got in restaurants was usually solid but not outstanding. The biggest pleasant surprise was the food we were served in the jungle.