A Foodie Guide to Ecuador
Ecuador – a country where the food is as rich and varied as every other element that goes into this vibrant corner of South America, making it a truly enticing destination. From fresh seafood in the coastal towns to hearty soups in the Andes, the diversity of the Ecuadorian palate will definitely come to form part of your memories of this big little country. For those who love to travel, one of the best bits has to be discovering different types of cuisine and cooking methods; food, after all, provides an accessible insight into a region’s culture and identity, crossing all language barriers. Ecuador is certainly not short on what is sure to be first time flavours for many. Let us whet your appetite as we explore some of the delectable dishes that this exotic country has to offer, on our foodie guide to Ecuador.
Ecuadorian foodie favourites
Throughout South America there are some staple meals that you will see time and time again. The joy of this is that whether you are in Peru, Argentina or Ecuador, you will find each dish varies from country to country, meaning it is a new taste sensation each time you try it.
Ceviche and Arroz con Pollo
Two such specialties are Ceviche and Arroz con Pollo. Often containing raw fish – although the Ecuadorians tend to cook it – Ceviche is incredibly popular and for good reason, since the process of marinating in lime leads to deliciously succulent pieces of seafood with a zing of tangy citrus. Arroz con Pollo, meanwhile, is one of those meals that many Ecuadorians will think of as comfort food, bringing back childhood memories. Chicken and rice seasoned with smoky cumin and cooked with a variety of spices and vegetables including juicy, sweet peppers, result in a steamy bowl of goodness; home cooking at its best.
A key ingredient in Ecuadorian cuisine is plantain, which can be found in many incarnations while here. Although they are becoming more well-known across the world, if you have never tried them before, this is the ideal place to do it! Baked, fried or pureed into a soup, this versatile fruit is found in all manner of cooking. Try plantain chips from a street vendor or treat yourself to some Bolon de Verde: fried dumplings stuffed with cheese or meat, delicious! During your time in Ecuador, you will no doubt see Cuy, or Guinea pig, on the menu. While some may shy away from this local delicacy, the people of Ecuador have been eating this meat for hundreds of years and regard it as something to be savoured on special occasions, so it definitely should not be discounted. Most likely to be seen barbecued on a spit, it has been described as having a taste similar to rabbit – the only way to really find out though, is to give it a try yourself!
The appetising Amazon
It will come as no surprise to learn, in a region that is home to the world’s widest river, that fish is a firm favourite in the Amazon. What’s more, a host of fragrant fruit, some of which you can only find in this unique ecosystem, also plays a massive part in day to day life here. Take advantage of this and try as many freshly prepared juices as possible during your visit.
Dishes for the curious traveller
However, there are some slightly more unconventional delicacies that form part of the Amazonian diet. Like all cultures, historically, locals have had to source meat where they can, which means that some dishes here may shock the first-time visitor. Zarapatoca, containing turtle meat; Uchumanga, a stew made with various types of animal intestine; and Chonta worms, a creature that looks like the big brother of the Australian Witchety grub, all just some of the unusual foods you might come across while visiting this region of Ecuador.
Dining with Amazonian hotels and luxury cruises
Do not despair though, as if none of this tickles your fancy you’ll still find plenty of more recognisable foods, even in the Amazon Basin. Hotels such as Las Cascadas Lodge not only offer local favourites such as tortillas to start off your day, but also omelettes, French toast and the good old American breakfast, so no fear, there’s lots to eat for the less adventurous palate. For those who wish to experience all this in sumptuous luxury, spend a few days on an Anakonda Amazon Cruise, where you’ll get to savour all the highlights of Ecuador’s amazing cuisine, prepared to perfection, as you drift along the river surrounded by the cacophony of noises that the Amazon brings with it!
Fine dining in Ecuador
While Ecuador is very proud of its traditional recipes, many of which have been passed down through the generations, so too are there cutting-edge, modern fine dining restaurants to experience. For example, before setting off to the iconic Galapagos Islands, stop in Guayaquil for an exquisite meal at one of the city’s many irresistible restaurants. Housed in Hotel Oro Verde, Le Gourmet Restaurant is an excellent choice. Surrounded by handsome murals on the walls, dine under grandiose chandeliers and tuck into innovative French food with an Ecuadorian twist.
El Ventanal Restaurant, Quito
Elsewhere, Quito, without a doubt, is home to a great selection of fine dining haunts, though our favourite has to be El Ventanal. Your dining experience in Ecuador is not complete until you sit down for a delectable meal at this upscale eatery, owned by none other than Surtrek’s founder himself, Alfonso Tandazo. Enveloped by wall-to-wall glass on all sides, El Ventanal bestows a breathtaking panorama of Quito from its elevated position in the district of San Juan, gazing out over the Old Town and Volcano Valley beyond. Nowhere else in Quito can you find a view more impressive, an exclusive sight to match the exquisite food. Reimagined national favourites are brought expertly up to date with tasty seafood, mouth-watering steaks and seasonal vegetables, though this is just the tip of the iceberg. El Ventanal is a love letter to Ecuadorian cuisine that any foodie will find impossible to resist!
Tempted to try Ecuadorian cuisine for yourself? Start planning your trip to Ecuador today with Discover Your South America, building your holiday according to your tastes and interests. Otherwise, call us toll-free on 1 866 978 7398 (Canada and USA) or 080 8189 0438 (UK) to talk to an expert, and Discover Your South America with Surtrek!