Eating task?GEORGIA PEACH
From a blog in Otavalo....
I had my first experience of a chickenīs foot beckoning me from the bottom of my soup bowl today! Itīs apparently a local specialty and the locals actually chew the meat of the foot!
, that sounds like an eating task for China or Hong Kong. It may be available in Otavalo, but that is not a typical Ecuadorian meal. I've been to Otavalo and do not remember that as one of my dining options(and I wasn't eating at hotel restaurants). Here is what I found on Ecuadorian food and drink:
Ecuador is known for its fabulous exotic fruits, high quality fish and seafood, and the countless varieties of Andean potatoes. Across the country you'll find a broad spectrum of national and regional dishes, including lemon-marinated shrimp, toasted corn, and pastries stuffed with spiced meats. If you're feeling courageous, you can put your culinary bravery to the test with roasted cuy (guinea pig) or tronquito (bull penis soup).
At only pennies per bite, bakeries offer a delicious range of breads, sweet pastries, and savory snacks, such as empanadas (hot, crispy meat or cheese-filled pastries) and llapingachos (potato and cheese pancakes). Dishes sold in the street are also quite cheap, but hygiene is often questionable, and you may quickly surpass your intestinal limits. A good rule to follow is the "locals rule" -- if the place is frequented by many locals, the food probably merits joining the crowd.
The regular diet of rice, potatoes, and meat (beef and chicken everywhere, pork in the Sierra) is complimented by another national culinary institution, aji (hot sauce). Most Ecuadorian restaurants and homes have their own version of aji, each with its own intensity of "picante" (a word derived from the verb to bite or to sting), so sample a bit before smothering your food! If you don't see a little bowl of aji on your table, just ask theyīve surely got it. In addition to aji, basic dishes are usually accompanied by the proverbial rice, small salad, and potatoes or patacones (squashed, fried green bananas). On the coast and in the Amazon, potatoes are often supplemented or replaced by menestra (beans or lentils) or yuca.
Soups are without doubt Ecuador's specialty. Most lunches and dinners are accompanied by a savory soup as the first course. Locro soup, made with cheese, avocado and potato, sounds a bit odd, but is actually quite tasty. Chupe de pescado, a fish and vegetable soup with coastal origins, is becoming popular throughout the country. Bolder diners can try yaguarlocro, a potato soup made with sprinkings of blood. Those ready to throw their inhibitions completely to the wind should dip their spoon into caldo de pata, a broth containing chunks of boiled cow hooves, considered a delicacy by locals and believed by hopeful men to increase virility.
Other dishes found in your everyday restaurant or home include: seco de pollo (stewed chicken accompanied by rice and avocado slices); lomo salteado (thin beef steak covered with onions and tomatoes); and seco de chivo (goat stew served with a mound of rice. Tortillas de maiz (thin corn pancakes) and choclo (barbecued Andean corn) are sold by street vendors and make great snacks any time of day.
Seafood is popular and plentiful throughout Ecuador. Lobster dinners can be enjoyed along the coast and in major cities for very low prices. In Esmeraldas province on the northern coast, your tastebuds will happily discover a new culinary twist with "encocados," seafood dishes prepared in coconut milk.
The signature dish of the country, however, is ceviche, a seafood dish marinated in lemon and onions -- Ecuador's answer to sushi. Unlike sushi however, Ecuadorian ceviche is always dished up with popcorn! Ceviche can be made of fish (de pescado), shrimp (de camarones), shellfish (de concha), squid (de calamari), or all of the above (mixta). Exercise caution, however, as improperly prepared ceviche --especially de concha-- has become one of the primary vectors for cholera and other nasty bacteria. Most restaurants are aware of this and act accordingly, but choose your dining establishment wisely.
For the sake of your intestinal happiness, drink only bottled or boiled water, not water from the tap. Distilled and sparkling waters from Ecuadorian springs are available throughout the country and are of good quality. If you head for the tap, youīll probably be heading for the bathroom, or worse, the doctor a few days later. Remember that tap water is frequently used in ice, so request your beverages "sin hielo" (without ice) in restaurants.
With the mouthwatering exotic fruits of Ecuador come delicious fruit juices, (jugos) including naranjilla (a cross between an orange and a tomato), tree tomato, mora (blackberry), guanabana (a luscious thick aromatic sweet white juice), maracuya (passion fruit) and papaya.
Bottled and canned fizzy drinks (including Coca Cola, Sprite and Fanta) are widely available throughout the country, as are teas and coffees. In spite of Ecuador's status as a coffee producing country, coffee quality is often rather disappointing, as the best beans are usually sent overseas. But if you can hunt down a good cafe youīll be able to revel in some first-rate caffeine, made from home-grown beans.
Chicha is a traditional libation found throughout Andean countries, made from fermented maiz, rice or yuca (manioc). In some rural parts of Ecuador, the fermentation process is augmented by human saliva: Chicha makers (typically women) chew the ingredients and spit them back in the pot to brew. Itīs not a good idea to sample it though, as hepatitis B is commonly passed with the bowl. A variety of Andean versions of Chicha exist that arenīt chewed and may be safe.
Not to be missed is the Andean drink of choice: canelazo (or canelito), a popular fiesta drink similar to a hot toddy, made of boiled water, sugar cane alcohol, lemon, sugar and cinnamon.