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Panaderia Canadiense

eG Foodblog: Panaderia Canadiense 2019 - EAT! Empanadas, Arepas, Tortillas and Other Ambato Food On the Go

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Ok, Ok, after my Baltic shores jaunt, I am so coming to Ecuador. 

 

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Wow, what a morning of shopping!  I loved your videos, @Panaderia Canadiense.  I remember looking at the market via Google maps during one of your previous blogs and being amazed at the size of it.  The videos make it even more impressive! 

 

You can embed them by just copying the link into your post.  Just suggesting that alternative as I'd hate to have people miss out by not clicking on the links.  

 

Thanks for taking the time to make the videos and share the photos and all your wonderful descriptions!   

I noticed over in the weather topic, you said you were, "so done with winter."  I would have thought June would be early winter.   Has winter been going on for a long time already?  

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1 minute ago, blue_dolphin said:

You can embed them by just copying the link into your post.  Just suggesting that alternative as I'd hate to have people miss out by not clicking on the links.  

 

Thanks for taking the time to make the videos and share the photos and all your wonderful descriptions!   

I noticed over in the weather topic, you said you were, "so done with winter."  I would have thought June would be early winter.   Has winter been going on for a long time already?  

 

I didn't know that's how it worked!  I'm going back up to edit those posts now - thank you so much!!! 

 

Winter here is a bit nebulous and depends on your specific location within the country - this year, because of the fun of climate change, cold wind and heavy rains in my area started three months early, in March, and nobody cares to venture a guess as to how long they'll last.  It's wreaking havoc on the harvests in the lowlands, which have seen unprecedented flooding this year; landslides on the main roads linking the Coast and Amazon to the Sierra have also disrupted transport in fairly serious ways.  Entire banana, peanut, and cacao plantations were lost to flooding in Los Ríos and Manabí, and we've been seeing higher than usual produce costs for coastal crops.

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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

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Wow, thank you so much for your commentary and all the photos and videos. 

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Posted (edited)

Snack! Here's today's third quick bread: empanadas de Pelileo. These are whole wheat, stuffed with a mixture of panela and the yolks of goose eggs, cooked on a clay tiesto seasoned by rubbing it with bacon.IMG_20190609_164706.thumb.jpg.365769b5d416340190634255e8d4581e.jpg

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They're particularly good with hot chocolate.

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Edited by Panaderia Canadiense Correct a fairly bizarre typo. (log)
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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

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Hi PanaCan,  so good to hear from you again.  Wonderful piles of fruit.  Amazing to see for your average Canadian who has just left ice and snow behind.

 

One question:  When you say something costs a dollar...what dollar do you mean?

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Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

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58 minutes ago, Darienne said:

One question:  When you say something costs a dollar...what dollar do you mean?

 

Ecuador, like Panama, uses the US dollar as its currency. Any price you see me give is therefore in USD.

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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

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And dinner last night is what we often have on Sunday nights if we're feeling uninspired.

 

Last blog, I introduced you all to Belén, my neighbor who fries chicken on the weekend.

 

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She didn't want to be photographed this time, but her food is as yummy as ever! I still maintain that the absolute best fried chicken in the city, probably the country, is made here in her brass paila.

 

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To it, we added a green salad and chilled potatoes, both under guacamole.

 

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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

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For this blog, I'm actually deliberately skipping breakfast in favour of street food. So breakfast today happened at a brunchy hour, and consisted of an Area Colombiana, which are also known locally as Arepa de Choclo.

 

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These are fairly large, sweet yellow corn pancakes stuffed with mozzarella, then topped with freshly grated hard ricotta. They're liberally slathered with butter and heated on a flat griddle that's built into the cart.

 

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Juan is a Colombian refugee; he's been in Ecuador about a year. He says that the parent company, Mr. Arepa, was founded by another Colombian refugee as a restaurant in the 1970s, but the owner has recently decided to go mobile. She employs almost entirely other refugees, serving the street food of her youth in Calí. This kind of company is part of Ecuador's informal subsistence economy.

 

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The Arepas themselves are fluffy and light, and although they're a bit messy to eat they're an excellent breakfast.

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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

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Just incredible, PanaCan.  You know exactly how much street food is available in most of Canada...Toronto and maybe Vancouver aside...and I would go crazy, not to mention putting on vast amounts of extra person.  But wot larks! :wub::wub:


Darienne

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Posted (edited)

After this, it was time to buy chicken and the few things that we missed at the Mayorista yesterday.

 

Chicken is probably the staple protein of this city. Pork specialty dishes notwithstanding, it's what's most common on lunch menus and in kitchens throughout the Sierra. We've bought ours at Puro Pollo for going on 10 years now; this is a big farm that specializes in organic field hens. It's really good and quite inexpensive.

 

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Across the street is the Mercado Central, one of the city's oldest covered markets. The current building dates from about 1950, and many of the vendors have had their stalls inside since it opened; the average age of a stallholder here is close to 70.

 

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The Central also is where Gloria, my supplier of lamb and kid goat, has her shop. Gloria sells between 5 and 7 lambs a day, in various cuts.

 

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The Central has recently been given a facelift, although the internal structure is largely unchanged.

 

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There's street food outside as well, like this vendor who has chunks of fritada and sweet oca (a traditional Andean tuber)

 

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The Mercado Central is right across the street from the Mercado de Flores, where the bulk of the city's fresh cut flowers are sold.

 

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Edited by Panaderia Canadiense Move an errant photo (log)
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Then it was time for empanadas. La Esquina de Morocho, in the South-Central barrio Presidencial, it's justifiably famous for their Ecuadorian typical empanadas, and I'm here for one specific style that's been disappearing from the streets: the Empanada de Morocho.

 

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This is a small, crunchy shallow-fried empanada filled with either shredded pork or chicken; what sets it apart is the wrapper, which is made of morocho (medium grind Flint corn) dough. The dough takes about four days to prepare, and had multiple soaking and pounding stages before it's ready to form into wrappers.

 

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The smaller, whiter empanadas are Morochos; these are chicken ones. The larger gold empanada is a Verde de Pollo, which is green plantain dough, stuffed with lots of meat and vegetables, then fried to crisp the outside of the crust while leaving the inside soft.  Both are delicious, with Morochos being more of a snack, and a Verde being more like a light lunch. And if course, a mochaccino to wash it all down, since it's chilly out.

 

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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

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You speak of eating lamb.  Is it as expensive where you are as it is in Canada?  Oddly enough, when Ed and I were first married, in the dark ages, 1960, poor students...lamb was the cheapest meat we could buy.   That was then....this is now.  And Ed won't eat lamb anymore anyway.  

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Darienne

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2 minutes ago, Darienne said:

You speak of eating lamb.  Is it as expensive where you are as it is in Canada?  Oddly enough, when Ed and I were first married, in the dark ages, 1960, poor students...lamb was the cheapest meat we could buy.   That was then....this is now.  And Ed won't eat lamb anymore anyway.  

 

It's about $4-6/lb here, depending on the cut, and ground lamb is $3.50/lb.  It's more expensive than chicken, comparable to pork in terms of price, and a bit cheaper than beef (a lot cheaper than the beef I buy, but I've got a bespoke butcher.). In Ambato there's more tradition for eating lamb than there is in other highland cities - I think it has to do with living so close to areas that raise merino sheep.  Even so, a lot of people in my generation don't know how to cook it and seem to be disinclined to learn, so the specialty butchers who deal in lamb and goat are declining.

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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

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La Esquina de Morocho is on the way to the mall (yes, "the" mall - this is a city of 500,000 and we only have one) to visit the MegaMaxi, which is like a North American supermarket.

 

This is pretty much like any other big supermarket in the world, except with highly regional snack and convenience foods.  There's been a lot more European variety in here since the trade treaties with the EU were signed; for me, it means I've got more Spanish wine to choose from, and that the quality of even a $5 bottle has skyrocketed.  The first chunk of the fruits and vegetables case here is devoted to convenience products - DoyPacks of fruit pulp make fruit juices and fruit-based desserts a breeze, and down at the bottom you'll notice whole coconuts that are chilled and ready to drink.  I've always wondered who buys these - they're twice as expensive as a coconut out on the street.  There are also convenience foods here - what's pictured are portable ceviche packages in two types.  A Cevichocho is made with lupines, and Ceviche de Palmito is with fresh palm hearts; both packs come with a generous amount of the spicy tomato, lime, and onion broth, Chulpi (toasted long-grain yellow corn) and Chifles (green plantain chips), which would accompany a ceviche if one were eating it at a street cart.

 

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The cheese aisle has also expanded greatly since the EU treaties; where about 1/3 of the length used to be occupied with mozzarella and queso fresco (and mozzarella still has a stranglehold!), there's now a generous section devoted to more aged cheeses, both domestic and imported.

 

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Beer has also seen something of a renaissance here in the past two or three years.  Three years ago, the government had to break up the national brewery into two companies, citing antitrust laws; half of the production remained in the hands of the original Cervecería Nacional, and the other half was sold to AmBev (the parent company of big US brands like Budweiser).  CN kept Pilsener and Biela, and AmBev got Club, and then innovation started.  Part of the terms of the division were that the CN no longer had a monopoly on the import of hops and malts, and this caused a commercial microbrewery explosion.  Resultantly, the big two have had to introduce beers outside of their traditional light Pilsen lager staples to stay competitive.

 

The store devotes an entire aisle-end to microbrews; there are twelve companies represented here, brewing probably two dozen different styles.  Stouts, reds, and lagered porters have recently become very popular, and even AmBev is now producing a red and a black porter under their Club label - neither of which hold a candle to the reds and porters made by the smaller breweries.  Ironically, Ambato's leading brewery, Ambatown, is not currently represented at the Maxi; while they produce just enough volume to make it into the national chains, they refuse to go national on the grounds that it would deprive Ambato and Baños of their brews.  That's okay, though; the brewery is only three blocks from my house, so I never go short!

 

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Even in the "traditional" beers cooler, the light lagers (Heinekin, Bud, Corona, Club Green, Pil, and Biela) share shelf space with microbrew ales.  Sabai and Paramo are two of the most popular ale brewers in the country.

 

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Coffee is also gaining market share locally - previously, the very best beans were exported but Ecuador now keeps some of it at home.  Juan Valdez and Sello Rojo are Colombian imports, and are kept in stock for the refugee community; everything else is domestic.  Vélez has become very popular in France; ES Café is beginning to win international awards, as are Gardella and Galletti.

 

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For those interested in domestic specialty cooking and dressing oil production, here are the heavy hitters.  Mira is an internationally award winning producer of avocado oil; they're located in Tungurahua, in the neighbouring county of Patate.  Other companies are now producing locally-grown and cold-pressed chia, flax, sesame, sunflower and peanut oils, and deserving of a special mention is the Sacha Inchi oil on the top shelf.  This is from the seeds of the Ecuadorian Amazon-native euphorb vine Plukenetia volubilis (mountain peanut) and is one of the leading oils in terms of fatty acid content; it's got a delicate nutty flavour and is delicious on salads.  Sacha Inchi is produced by small women's cooperatives, and has gained incredible market share since its introduction about two years ago.  Together, these specialty oils occupy more real estate inside the Maxi than canola, corn, and soy combined.

 

Another interesting development here is that about 8 months ago, the federal government passed a bill outlawing plastic drinking straws.  They're not sold anywhere anymore, and have been replaced with waxed paper straws, which biodegrade completely within about 12 months of hitting the dump.

 

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Finally, a look at how obsessed Ecuador is with making arepas and tortillas at home.  There are no fewer than three coolers full of this stuff in the deli, ranging from big Colombian style white corn arepas, which are meant to be used like edible plates, to smaller stuffed ones, wheat and corn wrapper tortillas meant for the production of empanadas (La Chilenita is one of the most popular brands for these - when fried, they puff up like pastry), and also big flour tortillas for Mexican cooking.  There are also, hidden at the back of the first cooler, freshly prepared convenience empanadas with various fillings and shapes in verde and wheat doughs, ready to cook.  Humitas and Quimbolitos are also represented here - I'll talk more about them later in the blog, when I go in search of absolutely fresh ones (nobody who's not desperate buys supermarket humitas.)

 

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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

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Wow!  What a tour.  It's terrific.  

 

Two questions:  Can you get a proper old cheddar (like Canadian cheddar)?  And what about an equivalent of the deep fried Navajo Fry Bread (my favorite when in the southwest USA.)?

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After the Maxi, it was time to go back downtown - the power company had an issue last month that means although I paid my bill, their system thinks I didn't.  That's OK, because there are a couple of other things I want.  First is 2kg of baking soda, which is a restricted substance in Ecuador.  I had to apply for a special government licence to possess food-grade bicarbonate of soda, and it comes with some obligations, including careful monthly monitoring and reporting of the mass I use, and what I use it for.  If my company were larger, I'd have legal responsibility (and we're talking capital crimes) for my employees' use of baking soda as well.

 

But hey... I'm actually down here for something that's far less of a hassle than baking soda.  I'm walking up Calle 12 de Octubre towards an Ambato landmark hueca, La Chabelita.  This street is a bit of a trip on the best of days, but Monday is open market day in Ambato, so it's more crowded than usual with a huge variety of everything for sale.

 

 

Morochos de la Chableita is probably about six blocks from where I took that video, across from the main offices of the power company.  It only opens in the afternoons, and this is the third location occupied by the family.  This hueca specializes in a few different types of fried dough, and in the drink called Morocho.  Earlier today I was lamenting how difficult it is to find empanadas de morocho; I guarantee, it's as easy to find the drink as it is difficult to find the empanadas.

 

That big pot she's ladling out of in the mid ground of the centre picture is morocho drink; think of it as being slightly more fluid than rice pudding, but with a similar texture and flavour.  It's usually got whole allspices floating in it, and it's somewhat chewy from the larger bits of flint corn.  Morocho is a filling beverage related to the Mexican horchatas.  I'm at Chabelas for a glass of this, and for two of her specialties: an Empanada de Viento (literally, a wind empanada) and a Platano Frito.  She's also cooking Buñuelos Emborrachados (drunken dumplings)

 

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Although I didn't eat them this time, it's worth mentioning the Buñuelos Emborrachados if only for the strangeness of their name.  Buñuelos are larger fried dough-balls, similar to donuts, which are heaped into a bowl and drowned in a heavy panela and spice syrup with a hint of cane liquor.

 

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First up, the Empanada de Viento.  This is a wheat dough filled with a bit of crumbly fresh cheese similar to feta, fried so that it puffs up.  Chabelita's empanadas de viento are far more substantial than most - she is generous with the cheese, and that means that the big air pocket that gives the treat its name is greatly reduced in her pastries.  I'm willing to make that sacrifice, through!

 

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Second course is the Plátano Frito, which translates directly as "fried plantain."  That's a bit misleading, because what this thing really is, is a beer-battered banana!  It's one of Mom's favourite Ambato fast foods; the banana inside, a type called Silk Plantain, sort of becomes a creamy pudding version of itself when fried.  Contrasted with the crispy, slightly salty batter, it's a delicious and filling treat.

 

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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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6 minutes ago, Darienne said:

Wow!  What a tour.  It's terrific.  

 

Two questions:  Can you get a proper old cheddar (like Canadian cheddar)?  And what about an equivalent of the deep fried Navajo Fry Bread (my favorite when in the southwest USA.)?

 

Cheddar: not yet.  But the Canadian Ambassador assures me that there's a trade deal under negotiation that would open the market to it, and drop the price of other quintessentially Canadian foodstuffs.  In the meantime, there are a couple of local styles of cheese that come close to the pungent aroma and sharp flavour of aged cheddars, amongst them Angochagua and Don Zuleta; very old Andino is also in the running, although that style is closer in character to Asiago.

 

For the frybread, we don't have anything quite like it; generally, corn arepas of various sizes replace that style of bread as the "plate" for street food.  Certain types of plantain tortilla might come close, as does the colourfully named Arepa de Cemento.  Incidentally, the closest thing in texture is an Arepa de Guaranda, although that's a) filled and b) not as fluffy.

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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Posted (edited)
On 6/9/2019 at 5:14 PM, lemniscate said:

Ok, Ok, after my Baltic shores jaunt, I am so coming to Ecuador. 

 

 

If you time it right, you'll be here during one of the four big food festivals....  One of these Octobers I'm going to make it north to Otavalo for Yamor, which is a huge Incan traditional celebration of corn and chicha (corn beer).  This country really knows how to eat!


Edited by Panaderia Canadiense (log)
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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

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25 minutes ago, Panaderia Canadiense said:

  First is 2kg of baking soda, which is a restricted substance in Ecuador.  I had to apply for a special government licence to possess food-grade bicarbonate of soda, and it comes with some obligations, including careful monthly monitoring and reporting of the mass I use, and what I use it for.  If my company were larger, I'd have legal responsibility (and we're talking capital crimes) for my employees' use of baking soda as well.

I'm sorry, but you can't just touch on this subject without some explanation.  I did Google it 6 different ways but couldn't find any useful answers.   No rush.  You can sit down for a rest first. 

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Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

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Just now, Darienne said:

I'm sorry, but you can't just touch on this subject without some explanation.  I did Google it 6 different ways but couldn't find any useful answers.   No rush.  You can sit down for a rest first. 

 

Okay.  To approach this question, you need a bit of background on Ecuador and on cocaine production.

 

Ecuador is geographically right in the heart of coca country - we're sandwiched between Perú and Colombia, which are world leaders, and the soil here is leaps and bounds more fertile - but despite this, it's not a major coca producer.  The government actively de-incentivizes coca plantation by making other crops, like broccoli, far more financially attractive to subsistence farmers.  Hand in hand with the non-drug crops programs, there's the restriction of access and possession of the chemical precursors that are used in the cocaine refining process; this includes strong bases like lye (used in the initial steps of processing),  and weaker ones like washing and baking sodas (used in the final steps of processing), some acids (including full-strength citric acid, which is also used by the cheese industry), as well as a number of high-potency solvents like toluene and acetone.  The restricted substances list has about 50 chemical precursors on it, some of which are hazardous substances in their own right, and all of which are used in cocaine refinery labs.

 

This has had a few interesting results for the public, outside of reducing the active cartel presence in Ecuador to a small number of smugglers and traffickers. (This is why Ecuador regularly rates as safer and better to live in than Colombia, even though Colombia is, on paper, a "better" country in terms of economy.)  As everybody knows, there are about 50,000 non-cocaine-production uses for sodium bicarbonate, ranging from cleaning products to acid-stomach remedies to leavening and redox agents in the kitchen.  In Ecuador, if you want cleaning-grade baking soda, which is adulterated with boric acid, a non-staining blue dye, and silica grit among other things (which make it a great industrial cleaner but hazardous for human consumption) this can be bought in large quantities at most markets.  However, if you want more than 5g of food-grade, which is 99.999% purity bicarbonate, you need to jump through some hoops to convince the government that you're not itching to become a cartel chemist.  That mentioned 5g?  You can buy it at the pharmacy, as an over-the-counter medication, and they won't let you buy more than one at a time.

 

The Ministry of the Interior (AKA the police), through a body called SETED (Secretaría Técnica para la Eliminación de Drogas, or the Technical Secretariat for the Elimination of Drugs), along with regulating opioids and other narcotic prescription drugs and running the medical marijuana growers program, issues permits for industries that use baking soda and other precursors in legal applications; you have to tell them what you're using baking soda for, why it can't be replaced by something that isn't baking soda, provide the chemical reactions that are your basis for use, percentage-weighted formulas for the recipes you use, and agree to random spot inspections and monthly reporting of consumption.  Larger industries that use listed precursors also have to have legal representatives and chemists to support their use of these chemicals, and special storage and handling procedures.  The cost of the permit is based on the size of your industry and how much of the substance you're using - so for me, because I'm called a Class 1 Artisan Bakery with a consumption of around 3kg a year of bicarbonate of soda, it's about $20 a year.  For a Class 5 Dairy, which uses five or six listed substances in the range of thousands of kilos, it can be up to $5,000.  Failure to report substances under your care, or being caught with over 5g/5mL of any of the precursors that you're not licensed for, carries both a hefty fine and jail time.

 

There's actually an active lobby within SETED itself for deregulating baking soda, based on the argument that it's far more useful in legal processes than it is to the cocaine industry.  They've been arguing with the National Assembly for about a decade now, with no results.

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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Oh my goodness.  Well thanks for that lengthy and useful answer.  Sorry to have caused so much work on your part, but life sure throws some curves. 

 

We used to grow industrial hemp...granola, etc... on our farm...it contains .0000000whatever THC.  You'd have to smoke an entire field to get high.  And we had to jump through hoops.  And the government folks could come on our property at any time to see if we were growing marijuana hidden inside the fields of hemp.  (Which would ruin the marijuana if you did.)  And they did.  I particularly remember one summer because I had Shingles at the time.  Not a good time was had by all.  Of course now it's legal to grow your own marijuana.  I think a person is allowed 6 plants...but I don't know.  And the hemp producers gave up growing it long ago and now just process other farmers' hemp.

 

Thanks again.  You are having such a terrific life in Ecuador.  

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Darienne

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@Panaderia Canadiense  That was interesting information on baking soda.  I did some reading today on Ecuador.  According to what I read, the country's standard of living in many aspects has improved greatly in a relatively short amount of time. I need to read some more about it.

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Iowa just passed a law allowing farmers to grow hemp.  I think the crop is limited to 40 acres but not sure of the details. What goes around, comes around!  And I am loving this blog!  Thank You for it.

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I'd like to add my thanks for the in depth reporting in your blog, Panaderia. It's content like this that makes egullet so unique and enjoyable. 😀😀

I wonder how the climate changes are effecting your seafoods?

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