Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Ecuador


Recommended Posts

I have just returned from Ecuador,again, and on this trip was finally able to make some sense of the food culture. First I will try to describe the food; then I will give a little list of places I stayed and ate, in case anyone decides to go [i highly recommend it].

Los Andes: Trout farms are very common in many regions in the Andes, so trout is almost always an option in restaurants, either con ajo [garlic sauce] or a la plancha [grilled]. Ecuadoreans also eat a lot of corvina [sea bass] and ceviche [corvino, octopus, shrimp], the latter, of course, being both outstandingly delicious and extraordinarily risky--if you're eating in a hotel or nicer restaurant it shouldn't be a problem.

Flank steaks or "filet mignon"--always well-marinated and grilled and absolutely tender and delicious, served with deglace or an Ecuadorean version of bearnaise.

Guinea pig--much talked about but really not as central to the food culture as some think--more of a "special" dish, and if it is on the menu in your restaurant, it may require several hours or a day's advance notice.

Pork: for example chunks of shoulder meat grilled til crispy, or a chop. Always flavorful.

Potatoes and corn and everything else: Don't expect much imaginative presentation of produce or side dishes. Your plates will be accompanied by some type of potato [boiled, fried] and or hominy and or rice, and maybe a slice of avocado, and a serving of "bird's eye"--how I designate the carrot/pea/green bean medley that seems to accompany every meal, and looks like frozen vegs from a bag--but isn't.

Specialties:

*mote pillo is a popular breakfast or meat accompaniment in Cuenca--eggs scrambled with hominy and cheese.

*churrascos--a plate of grilled flank steak topped with two fried eggs, a side of fried potatoes, rice and avocado. Sounds lardy and unhealthy, but after the guy sitting next to you orders it, as you watch his face brighten with pleasure, you'll wish you had, too.

*llapingachos--potato pancakes stuffed with cheese, usually served with grilled pork. Ecuadorean cheese is mild white soft fresh cheese that crumbles easily. Sometimes you get little strips of it on the side of other plates.

*humitas--Ecuadorean tamales, basically pureed fresh corn and milk and sugar pudding steamed inside corn husks til the mixture sets--literally the most DELICIOUS food I have ever put in my mouth in Ecuador. It's the corn, largely--it's sweet and chewy, more like hominy, which is also very popular in the Andes. The best humitas are available at the cafe in the Tianguez Gallery in Quito.

*alfonjares--I found these cookies at the bakery in the Monasterios de las Conceptas in Cuenca--a tiny shop with baked goods prepared by the nuns who still operate the convent. A short pastry [i will SWEAR it is made with lard] cookie sandwich, with a thin smear of dulce de leche in between, dusted with powdered sugar and rolled in toasted coconut. Knock yourself out.

El Oriente: If you are planning to visit the Amazon, you'll enjoy a very different food culture. If you get meat, it'll be stewed capon or hen--you won't know the difference because the foraging free range birds are all scrawny--but the meat is delicious--it's essence of chicken, very different from the fat tender juicy huge pieces of meat we force here in the States. You might get fish, little tilapias caught, say, five minutes ago, wrapped in bijao [palm] leaves and steamed with heart of palm. You'll always have rice and fried plantain, either tostones or maduros, and some sort of soup--made with potatoes or plantain dumplings. Sliced avocado. Heart of palm ceviche, chopped and steeped in lime and sugar with a little tomato or aji--delicious. Yuca--one of my favorite rainforest foods, and the staple of the rainforest diet. I love it cut into thick strips and pan fried til it's crispy at the edges, then eaten with a small dab of aji con sel--the local mined salt mixed with dried aji, very hot peppers from the jungle. Some say fried yuca tastes like nothing, but they are muy loco.

Bebidas: Wherever you are in Ecuador, you need to drink the jugos offered at every meal: thick pulpy liquidos made from naranjillas [tart equator citrus], tree tomatoes, moras [blackberries] pina, naranja, mango, papaya. Canelazos are hot cocktails made with sugar cane alcohol and sugar, lime, cinnamon. And if someone is offering shots of the sugar can alcohol--drago--take one. You'll feel the heat of the jungle and the strength of the mountains coursing through your body.

Good places to eat:

Quito: Hotel Sebastien's Cafe Mistral--high quality organic produce, one of the best breakfast buffets anywhere.

Otavalo: Hotel Casa de Hacienda--the trout was grilled to perfection. And a homemade blackberry ice cream with tangerine pudding that can't even be described--I ate two.

Termas de Papallacta: If you can drag your ass out of the hot baths, the food here is always very good. We had trout and flank steaks, and a creamy mushroom gravy was passed around the table. The full breakfast buffet includes eggs, pancakes, sausages, tiny yeasty croissants and huge fruit platters.

Cuenca: Hotel Crespa serves a very good breakfast--a huge plate with a chunk of banana, watermelon, pineapple, mango and canteloupe, accompanied by a glass of sweet whole milk yogurt, huevos al gusto, a basket of hot fresh pastries, including the tiny croussants that the Ecuadoreans do so well. The cafe con leche is very good here, too, the milk so rich that fat floats on the top. We ate supper here and had coctel de camarones y aguacate [one of my favorite dishes in the world--a half of avocado with chunks of steamed shrimp and a marie rose-type sauce, cream and paprika], also the cazuela de mar--a seafood casserole, hot creamy base with huge chunks of corvino, camarones, octopus.

Vilcabamba: we stayed a couple nights at the Madre Tierra spa [i had a 30-minute steam sauna followed by a full body sea salt exfoliation--for $17.92]. This is a fun and pretty place, but in general I have to say the food here really sucks ass--especially the coffee, which is unabashedly instant and weak [very typical of Ecuador]. You get a bowl of granola and fruit and an egg for breakfast, then a plate of food for supper--we had pot roast one night, tough and cold, a meal of depression, and fried fish and creamy potato casserole the next which was much better. But the hotel does have it's own bakery and serves a hearty dense pan integral that makes up for the rest of the meal. If you get hungry during the day you can order sanduches--huge flavorless buns with a microscopic slab of unidentifiable meat or "tempeh" or cheese inside. Just order fries, and get the bartender to mix you a killer capairina or capairoska--he makes each one slowly, meticulously, with a huge handful of juicy lime from the tree next to his cabana.

I spent the first hour in the Otavalo market walking through the food stalls, buying spices and ground corn and quinoa from the local women. When I got home yesterday, every item in my bag smelled of the fierce ground comino [cumin]; I bought blocks of canela--unrefined sugar. I also bought some dried canela sticks, steeped them in hot water last night and bathed til weary in herbs.

Ecuador--shungo--tierra de mi corazon. :smile:

Edited by stellabella (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

those who have eaten helados in Mexico, for example, know that they tend to have a smoother, denser consistency, flecked with small ice crystals, than our commercial ice cream here in the States. the hacienda helado mora was creamy and sweet and very smooth, but still tangy, and a beautiful deep purple color--a generous scoop in a parfait glass on top of a bed of tangerine cream, this last being the true delight:

it had the consistency of a creamy whole milk yogurt, flecked with bits of pulp, very sweet, creamy, pudding-like, cool, but not frozen--so the effect then was a spoonful of thich dense tart berry ice cream in a puddle of thick tangy citrus cream--great texture contrast.

i don't go for desserts in ecuador, but this one was very good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wonderful post, StellaB.

The Bebidas sound kind of like the "Batidas" we got when I lived in Panama. Fresh fruit, evap milk, little sugar, crushed ice, whipped around in a blender. The Batida bars were everywhere. You'd just go in and point to, say, the fresh mangoes, and 60 seconds later you were sipping this wonderful frothy confection.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bebidas: .............--take one. You'll feel the heat of the jungle and the strength of the mountains coursing through your body.

Tell me about it :biggrin: Actually your analogy is quite apt. I'm going to use it liberally to describe similar drinks :smile:

anil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stella:

Beautiful post, Baby. Really. Informative and evocative.

And I'm startled by the fact that almost everything you ate sounds like my kind of food. Ecuador. Who knew?

Thanks to you, we do now. More field reports in the future, please!

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

*llapingachos--potato pancakes stuffed with cheese, usually served with grilled pork.  Ecuadorean cheese is mild white soft fresh cheese that crumbles easily.  Sometimes you get little strips of it on the side of other plates.

*humitas--Ecuadorean tamales, basically pureed fresh corn and milk and sugar pudding steamed inside corn husks til the mixture sets--literally the most DELICIOUS food I have ever put in my mouth in Ecuador.  It's the corn, largely--it's sweet and chewy, more like hominy, which is also very popular in the Andes.  The best humitas are available at the cafe in the Tianguez Gallery in Quito.

I just recently tried llapingachos and they were so good, I was neglecting the hunk of pork sitting on the other side of the plate :shock: !

In this same neighborhood, we're seeing a big wave of Ecuacdorian immigrants and I've seen lots and lots of signs for humitas for sale. Have been very curious and now I'm set to try them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In this same neighborhood, we're seeing a big wave of Ecuacdorian immigrants and I've seen lots and lots of signs for humitas for sale. Have been very curious and now I'm set to try them.

Humitas (like a steamed cornbread) are good as a snack with a cup of coffee. When they're stuffed with something (a piece of fried pork, etc.), they're called tamales. I like mine with aji or a bottled hot sauce.

Lent is the time for Fanesca. If you have the chance, try this heavy, satisfying soup. Traditionally, it is very labor intensive to make... down to the peeling of individual beans. Salt-cod, peanuts, onion, faves, corn, cheese and milk are just some of the stuff that goes into it.

-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does everyone remember Bourdain's estimation of Ecuadorean sous chefs? That wasn't lost on me. As it turns out, Ecuador is facing an emigration crisis right now, similar to what's happening in many parts of Mexico [and other LA countries, too, of course]. Latest estimates are that almost 2 million Ecuadoreans are working overseas, and that's out of a population of just over 12 million. The vast majority are in NYC and Spain. In some of the communities I visit, there are entire families in which only the females are still living in the country--all the men old enough to work are gone. And now many women are trying to leave, too. On this last trip I was approached by three families asking if M. and I would bring their daughters back to the States with us to live and learn English. :unsure: I would LOVE to do it, but I also can't imagine it.

Last time in NYC I was unable to get out to an Ecuadorean restaurant, but I have met Ecuadoreans cooking in many other restaurants. I always wonder if they are homesick, if they miss their families, and it makes me sad.

Big Bear, after I try my humita recipe, I'll post it here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Cuenca, the Hotel Crespa is really called the Hotel Crespo and there is an even better restaurant called Villa Rosa on iirc 12 de Octubre. It's the best and finest restaurant in Cuenca.

They also use a condiment called aji, which is another word for chile peppers. There are as many varieties of aji as there are chiles. Usually, they contain chiles, white onion, sometimes tomates de arbol (tree tomatoes) and sometimes not.

The ceviches of concha and camaron (shrimp) are usually traditionally garnished with canguil. (edit: a type of popcorn made from huge kernals of corn, some popped, some toasted.)

There are traditional soups called "locro" usually with potatoes.

Chicharron (cuchi cara) are thin pork skins fried until crisp and served with the aji. Outstanding if you know your source. Frightening if you don't. The fritada is pork chunks marinated and fried until crisp --it's one of my top three favorite dishes.

How do I know this? I lived in Cuenca for six months. I have a ton of recipes from a book given to me called Viejos Secretos de la Cocina Cuencana (old secrets of the Cuencan kitchen).

Visit Ecuador if for the food alone. Plus, they use the dollar as their national currency, so no exchanging!

Edited by dave88 (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Awesome! I lived in Ecuador for 5 weeks over the summer, and this brings back SO many great memories. Wow. It's so funny, because I clicked on the South America forum looking specifically for Ecuador, and here it is. I was even planning on making llapingachos this weekend. I was thinking that the closest cheese to use might be firm farmer's cheese? I'm not sure.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

P.S. Here's a doozy--on my second-to-last day in Quito, my host family insisted that I eat the national dish--ceviche. I was of course apprehensive, having taken great care the entire trip with food and water and not having gotten sick even ONCE--but I just said screw it and dove right in to the (delicious) shrimp ceviche. Boy, did I come to regret it. On the morning of my flight, I woke up at 4 AM and proceeded to vomit for the next 2 hours. Fun, huh? To this day, the word ceviche makes me ill, and I feel quite confident that I will never again eat it--even though I do remember it as being quite tasty.

Sorry--one more thought to share. I consider myself a very adaptable eater, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables, but I could never come to enjoy the very distinctive taste of the tomate de arbol. Ugh, I shudder to think of it. I never really like naranjilla, either! I used to down them in one big gulp to get it over with and not appear rude to my host mother. I also found the fritada to be one of the most repulsive dishes I've ever sampled--greasy and slimey; but then again, I've always disliked pork. In terms of absolute favorite dishes--ANYTHING with mora, particularly my morning jugo; the helado, which is much lighter and sorbet-like than our ice cream (oh my god, I'm having a clear memory of an ice-cream cone I bought in a drugstore for a nickel--a scoop of coconut with one of mora--fabulous); llapingachos; the thin flank steak; tiny coconut empanadas as well as, surprisingly, the cheese empanadas topped with crispy sugar!

OK. I'm really done now. Please continue to share!

Edited by Lochina (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too drank the water and ate ceviches in Quito and Cuenca but never got sick. Maybe I have an iron stomach?

The cheese thing -- tough call. The US has a tough time duplicating cheeses from other countries and this is no exception. I think the typical farmer's cheese here is a bit too salty and even too dry. I have yet to find a source in the US for naranjilla (LOVE it) or tomates de arbol. The trip to Ecuador alone is worth it once you try that first jugo whether it be maracuya or naranjilla or a helado de guanabana. The fruit there is about the best in the world. I once took a cab (yes cab) from Quito toward the coast to San Antonio de los Colorados (one of many indiginous areas) and on the way there were fruit stands each with maybe 20 varieties of bananas alone. Incredible. The scenery was even better.

I love Ecuador and make an effort to return, not only to see old friends, but to experience the country --food and culture (tons of each) each year. I love it. In fact, I had best hamburgers in my life there. Yes, I did try cuy (guinea pig) only after about half a bottle of Zhumir (cane alcohol) and some casual pleas from my friends. By then, I would have eaten whatever they handed me. Oh.. the memories! What a great time. Some of the best of my life!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always get a kick out of reading about other people's experiences in Ecuador and comparing them to mine. I hope you don't mind if I ramble.

Cuenca..... We drove (a whole other story) there from Quito about 2 years ago and loved it. Perfect climate, much like Quito. Like a NY spring, but year round. Pretty city. And the Cuencanos speak with such a charming, musical inflection. Friendly and polite. Stayed at the Hotel Orquidea on Borrero, about 2 blocks from the Plaza Abdon Calderon. The four of us had the apartment (including a kitchen and 3 baths) on the top floor, with access to the roof, for about $30 a night. A full breakfast in the little cafe downstairs was less than $2 each. Once, we took refuge in the Cathedral de la Immaculada (the New Cathedral, late 19th century) because the police were using teargas on some student protestors in the plaza. Then we scooted next door to the Restaurant Rumipamba for lunch and to watch the end of the excitement. Never felt threatened. Visited the museums and churches. Wonderful old architecture. I believe the Old Cathedral uses some building stones from Incan temples. In a place by the river, we drank caipirinhas and ate snacks while listening to a guitar serenade, while the sports fans were watching NCAA ball on the TVs in the bar. Naturally, we took a side visit to the town of Chordeleg, for the jewelry. Great prices.

The cheese thing..... My wife uses mozzarella.

The juice thing..... I buy Goya guanabana nectar in my local supermarkets. I also like the tree-tomato juice, but can't get it here. Supposedly, it's great for lowering cholesterol. Someone told me that they can't get it to grow in the US. So much for me giving up my Zocor.

Zhumir..... IIRC, the 86 proof aguardiente is about $1.60 a bottle (.75 liter). Ain't life great. Someday, I'll have to report on the great caipirinha shootout I hosted in Quito. The majority preferred theirs made with Zhumir Limon (60 proof). Maybe it was my heavy-handed pouring. Nobody picked the Brazilian Cachaca 51. I prefer them made with rum (caipirisima?). The Ron San Miguel Plata (80 proof) was about $2.25 a bottle. Now, if I could just find a place that sells real Cuban cigars.

I usually drink bottled water in Ecuador. I eat ceviche all the time and it hasn't given me Atahualpa's revenge. Of course, the amount of aji that I add would kill anything.

-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

I was really glad to see this thread too. I was in Ecuador 2 years ago & loved it. Decided to keep a travel journal, which soon turned into a food-only journal. I religiously wrote down everything I ate there. If I come across it I'd be happy to post it in full.

The most memorable: bizcochos with fresh cheese in Cayambe, potato soup w/ avocados at the Hacienda Pinsaqui near Otavalo, open-air breakfasts of fresh baked biscuits and guava jam at El Monte (an ecolodge in the cloud forest near Mindo). Ecuador made me love breakfast, but always the bread/fruit ones, not the eggy spicy ones. My stomach wakes up slowly. God, I can't wait to find that journal to remember all the great breakfasts.

I thought the coffee was great all over. Our last stop on the way out of Mindo was to a coffee plantation run by a retired Belgian economist. Looked like he was on safari with Hemingway. He had decided to stimulate the economy of Ecuador by creating the perfect coffee. So far it is only available in one place in the world -- that amazing huge specialty shop that feels like it should be in Paris. Don't know where it is exactly -- on the way back to Quito, I guess.

We bought a few bags and prepared some at home. It was just OK. Guess he hasn't perfected that technique yet.

The water situation is pretty weird.

Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...

Mr. Babyluck found my Ecuador journal yesterday while going through some old papers. Reading through the meals makes my mouth water--it's now 3 years later and I can still recall how each dish tasted. That's how refreshing and exciting the cuisine was there. Now that I stop to think about it, I believe that that trip triggered the transition from just loving to cook to a true passion for flavor and fresh ingredients. Here we go:

Friday, 30-MAR-01

Quito--staying at Café Cultura, a beautiful, friendly, artsy hotel (if a little pricey for Ecuador).

Breakfast (Café Cultura): eggs & bacon, homemade bread w/ butter & blackberry jam, blackberry juice.

Lunch (Café Cultura): My mom & Mr. Babyluck had tuna quiche w/ tomatoes & cheese, I had zucchini crèpes w/ tomato sauce (with those characteristic Ecuadorian seasonings), and my dad had sea bass on plantain leaf w/ rice & raisins. I had a hard time getting used to the flavor of the red sauce, but it was still a good meal.

Dinner (Chifa): Not the name of the restaurant, but rather what Chinese restaurants are called there. It was our first day and already we felt like we'd be going broke if we kept eating in the hotel. I didn't write down what we had--it was good, but not memorable. The more interesting points were the two armed guards outside the gated entrance and the absence of other tourists--I guess no one but my family would go to Ecuador and get Chinese!

31-MAR

Breakfast (Café Cultura): muesli, pancakes w/ bananas & cream, omelettes. I amazed myself--I generally dislike breakfast and usually eat just a granola bar or bread & butter or cheese. And here I am, gobbling up these 3-course breakfasts. They were just so wholesome & fresh tasting--I daydream about those pancakes regularly.

This was our Otavalo trip day--we arranged a car through the hotel and the driver Angel stopped at a roadside shop in Cayambe, where we enjoyed a midmorning snack of bizcochos and really fresh locally made cheese.

Lunch (Hacienda Pinsaqui): We all started with an amazing potato soup w/ avocado. Still trying to figure out that recipe. My mom & I weren't that hungry, so we just had ceviche (shrimp for me & tuna for her)--delicious. Mr. Babyluck had a chicken sandwich & fries & my dad had a ham & cheese sandwich & fries. Guess they were feeling a little homesick. The place was beautiful but made me extremely uncomfortable, looking around at all the other white tourists and getting waited on hand & foot as if it were still the colonial days.

Dinner (Pizza): Mr. Babyluck & I went out on our own and had Ecuadorian pizza. Again, I had trouble getting past the strange-tasting red sauce. Guess I am overly conditioned to expect NJ pizzeria pizza. Afterwards, we went to a liquor store to buy a bottle to bring with us to the cloud forest. A bum came in & insisted on sharing his beer with us--he got plastic cups from the cashier and poured us each a cup. We drank them to be polite but when he kept refilling them, we made an excuse & got out of there. Then we tried to find a place to buy cigarettes and ended up stopping a woman who was dragging her cigarette cart home for the night. She didn't have change, so we ended up buying 2 packs of local cigarettes for $1 if I remember correctly. Back to the food!

1-APR: My birthday

Breakfast (Café Cultura): Assortment of bread, fruit, & jams.

Then we got back in the van with Angel & headed out to the cloud forest. We were met by a Jeep and driven to the river, where we were pulled across on a sort of wooden-and-rope pulley. On the other side was El Monte, a little world without gasoline or electrical power. Fresh water from a spring-fed cistern higher on the mountain flowed out of faucets, powered by gravity. The most delicious water I've ever tasted. There was even a bicycle-powered blender for making daiquiris but to our sorrow and everyone else's, it was in the shop for repairs. Our accomodations were simple cabanas with hammocks and a picnic table downstairs in the open air and a bedroom, sleeping loft & bathroom upstairs. The bathroom had a Swiss spa aesthetic and the window opened up to the fast-flowing, icy, clean river. A half-coconut shell was kindly supplied so one could stand up and bathe with a view of the river & the sunlight-dappled foliage while hearing tree frogs and birds, almost drowned out by the din of the water. But I digress. Back to the food.

Lunch (all meals from here on out were at El Monte & were communal): a salad of fresh tuna, rice & red cabbage, bean soup w/ potatoes, lemon/mandarin orange juice, pineapple pie, plantains. The most satisfying lunch imaginable for the travel-weary. The salad especially made an impression.

Dinner: fried fish & battered plantains, salad, potato soup, and a chocolate birthday cake they'd thrown together for me! I was touched. It was another delicious meal.

2-APR

Breakfast: muesli w/ orange juice, pineapple & melon, bread & bagels (!) w/ fresh butter & fresher guava jam, omelettes.

Lunch: burrito w/ sautéed vegetables & potatoes.

Unfortunately, this is where I left off. I guess I lied when I said I wrote down everything I ate. You see, just a few hours after arriving, after our wonderful lunch of tuna salad & bean soup, my father (who was a wildlife photographer at the time) took his camera out on a hike without a rain cover even though he had been told that it rains every single day at 2-3 in the afternoon. He got caught up on the mountain in the rain and slipped while trying to protect his camera. He didn't know it at the time, but in his fall, he dislodged one of the PVC pipes feeding the lodge with fresh water, so over the course of the next 24 hours, the cistern emptied itself into the soil. We were all in various stages of mild gastric discomfort already, and Tom (the owner) did his best to see that we got clean water but there wasn't much to go around, so I for one got pretty dehydrated & lost interest in food. When my dad's slip-up came out, everyone took it really good-naturedly but they ribbed him about it for a while. Actually, I was really pissed but if you knew my dad you wouldn't be able to hold a grudge against him either. Even if he robbed you of 3 days of gastronomic pleasure.

Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks. Good read.

Glad you enjoyed it--and yes, the bottle we got was Zhumir Limon.

I just read through the whole thread again and there is a definite commonality in our stories--seems Ecuador just has that kind of effect on the right visitors. I can still go on & on telling people every detail of the trip--I feel like that little girl in the Disneyland commercial. The way I talk, people think I just got back.

Also, after a day or two in the cloud forest I didn't need coffee or cigarettes anymore--I still drank the delicious coffee but I didn't have a cigarette until I had been back in NJ for a few days. Maybe I was just delirious from thirst.

Stellabella, I definitely did took note of Bourdain's comment about Ecuadorean cooks and when I see one now, I feel the same way--they are both lucky and unlucky to be here when you think about what they left behind. My parents were also asked to take back a teenager or two with them--they would have done it, too, if they didn't already have a teenager from Puerto Rico staying in their extra room!

Can't wait for that humitas recipe--didn't get to try it while I was there & it sounds delicious.

Links to Café Cultura and El Monte--both highly recommended.

Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Has anyone spent a fair bit of time in Ecuador recently? I'm getting interested in the idea of a longish visit there early next year. The posts in this thread are certainly helping to nudge me along and would love to hear more.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has anyone spent a fair bit of time in Ecuador recently? I'm getting interested in the idea of a longish visit there early next year. The posts in this thread are certainly helping to nudge me along and would love to hear more.

I don't know if it's the kind of experience you're looking for, but El Monte, the ecolodge we stayed at in Mindo, houses a lot of long-term guests. Some people go every year for a few weeks or months. There was a European couple at the end of a backpacking tour of South America there when we were--they were working part-time for the owners in exchange for reduced room & board. Seems like deals like that are probably common.

Plenty more details if you're interested...

Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has anyone spent a fair bit of time in Ecuador recently? I'm getting interested in the idea of a longish visit there early next year. The posts in this thread are certainly helping to nudge me along and would love to hear more.

I am going down soon, fresco. Is there anything specific that I can find out for you?

-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's great--where exactly will you be? I'm interested in pretty much everything--the don't miss restaurants and cafes, markets, unusual sights.

I keep reading about a growing tendency in Ecuador towards a two-tiered system where foreigners pay a much higher price for hotels, meals, and much else than the locals do. Would appreciate knowing how pervasive this is, and anything that can be done to thwart it.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

fresco..... I stay in Quito, beach-it in Atacames and take the occasional side trip.

I am pretty sure that Ecuadoreans pay less to visit the Galapagos Islands and there is no way around it. It's a governmental thing. I wouldn't be surprised if there are restaurants that have two sets of menus, although my Ecuadorean wife swears it ain't so.

Yes, foreigners visiting local craft markets are quoted prices that are higher than the “normal” asking prices, but even a “normal” asking price is just a starting point. Bargaining is a way of life and is expected. Hone your negotiating skills. Actually, bargaining can be enjoyable if you are not desperate to acquire a particular item. Don't shop for souvenirs the day before leaving for home.

I find Ecuadoreans to be polite and friendly and they genuinely like North Americans. The words “gringo” and “gringa” are used, but not disparagingly. English is taught as a second language in the schools and you sometimes discover its use when least expected. I was once stopped in the street by an eight-year-old and his mother. The boy wanted to try his English, language skills on me. It was a very pleasant and heart warming encounter. Not so pleasant was the time that a surly, slightly-deranged beggar reiterated and emphasized his demands in English in response to my, “No hablo Espanol.”

The US dollar is the official currency of Ecuador, so US citizens don't have any exchange worries. When I go, I sift through the coins I've been throwing into an empty, coffee can and take out the dimes and quarters to bring with me. Down there, you can actually buy some things with pocket change.

I'll keep you in mind while I'm down there and pay more attention to things that might interest you. When I get back, I should have better information for you and maybe some photos. If you have any more questions, let me know.

-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

fresco..... I'll leave as soon as I can get my act together.

I hope you don't mind getting things in dribs and drabs, but that's the way my mind works. As I think of something that might be of interest, I'll post it.

Generally, you won't find heating or air-conditioning in Quito. The capital of Ecuador is about 9,300 feet above sea level and the altitude, coupled with the latitude, help keep its temperatures about the same year-round. I equate it to a New York spring, but year-round. A little chilly at night and comfortable during the day.

The altitude can affect you, at first. Read up about high-altitude sickness. Beware, anyone who has respiratory problems, the oxygen is a little thin. It takes three generations to become fully acclimated to high-altitude breathing.

Some of the volcanoes are tall enough to be snow-capped. I remember reading that Ecuador is the only country where both the temperature and the latitude can equal zero.

Quito is due south of NY and in the same time zone, except they don't observe Daylight Savings Time. Doesn't make sense to do so because the latitude keeps the day/night thing pretty even. Interestingly, I think they tried DST in the past (God knows why) and it was a bust.

June 1st, The Miss Universe Contest is coming from Quito.

-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I am sitting in Mariscal Sucre International in Quito, awaiting a 7 AM flight to EWR. I´ll post some info and a couple photos when I get back and get caught up with the mail.

-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

bigbear/stella and other ecuadorphiles - please - bring it on.

i unexpectedly lucked into a free (ridiculously short) trip to ecuador. i'll be leaving seattle thursday the 16th and returning that sunday. saturday is booked (rob is performing so we'll need to stay local to quito).

the cloud mountain sounded amazing...how long would it take to get there? if we must (for time reasons) stay in or right near quito - what shouldn't we miss?

i speak some spanish - if i get the opportunity to take a day trip (returning before evening) by myself - will i be ok? i haven't travelled in south or central america at all, and i dearly wish we had more time - but i'm wildly excited...do your 2002 recommendations still hold?

i can't wait to try the jugos and humitas!

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...