Travel Ecuador: Cuisine, Drinks, Festivals and a Vibrant Culture
Ecuador’s cuisine is quite diverse, and lunch and dinner are often preceded by soups and accompanied by potatoes or rice. Local vegetables such as yuca and sweet plantains also play a big role in local cooking. Restaurant meals can be had from about $2 and up, depending on how fancy the establishment is.
Food in Ecuador is similar to Peruvian food in name but very different by nature. Like Peru, there is a large proliferation of empanadas, spicy aji pepper sauces, and potato-based dishes. Seafood, especially lobster at times, is an understandably major ingredient in many plates due to Ecuador’s expansive Pacific coastline. As an example of a twist on Peruvian tastes, then, is that although Ecuadorians also enjoy ceviche (raw seafood marinated in lime juice) as Peruvians so ubiquitously adore, the northerners prefer to include some coconut milk!
Soup is an especially beloved Ecuadorian dish, especially a type called locro made of cheese, avocado, and potato. Spiced meats reign supreme in the Andes, often accompanied by the high region’s choclo corn. Llapingachos (potato and cheese pancakes), seco de carne (stewed meats with rice and avocado or small salad), lomo saltado (thin beef strips stir fried with onions and tomatoes on white rice), and tortillas de maiz (thin corn pancakes) are all iconic meals, although generally speaking the combination of rice, meat, and potatoes exemplify a traditional meal in Ecuador.
As for drinks, Ecuadorians love their fresh fruit juices. Fruits hailing from the Amazon such as maracuyá and guanabana make for refreshing treats in the middle of a hot afternoon. Canelazo (or canelito) is often enjoyed during festivals and includes sugar cane alcohol, sugar, lemons, and cinnamon, creating a distinctively saccharine taste. In more refined situations or to celebrate milestones in your Ecuador trip, rich wines from Chile and Argentina can be easily located.
As with its other Latin America partners, Ecuadorians love to celebrate life. February is the month of Carnival amongst Catholic destinations around the world, a long festival characterized by colorful parades, lively paint and flour throwing, and of course lots of endless music. The second week of June before the harvest time and in conjunction with the Summer Solstice is known as Corpus Cristi.
This is when “Danzantes del Sol” (sun dancers) show in their clothing and choreographies their appreciation for the Sun, the Moon, and Nature. Corpus Cristi is a very spiritual event drawing out the most devout. The harvest festivals in the end of June are known as Inti Raymi, during which costumed performers dance and stroll through each town to celebrate their successes for the growing year.
July features Machachi, a horse-centric festivity in the traditional styles showcasing bullfights, cattle displays, and much local food, music, and dancing. The Day of the Dead on November 2 is not as vibrant as those celebrations known in Mexico, but Ecuadorians also practice the old ways. Families flock to the graves of their loved ones with flowers, cards, toys, and other artifacts, then spend the rest of the day at the plot as if spending time with the one who has passed away. The day is both a celebration of life and death at the same time. On December 6, Quito patriotically celebrates its founding, although it is in the 2 weeks prior which the city erupts with constant parades, bullfights in the Plaza de Toros, sporting events, tournaments, contests, concerts, and much, much more.
Connie is a travel expert at Latin America For Less, a US-registered travel agency with a strong Peruvian presence. The company specializes in organizing fully customized and best value travel packages to Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Costa Rica.