Cuenca has between 300 and 400 restaurants. I’ll talk about that in another post. For now I want to talk about variety of foods and cooking at home,
Since landing in Quito a month ago I have managed to lose 15 lbs, had my blood sugars return to pretty much normal, and generally feel healthier. Its not something I planned its a result of the environment. We mostly only eat two meals a day, a late breakfast and a late lunch/dinner. The removal of most stress has led me to be more creative and experimental in my cooking.
Starting with the unbelievable variety of fresh fruits. There are four large open air markets (mercado) here loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables at incredible prices. They are also available at the super markets but tend to be more expensive. There are also little convenience markets, in garages and dedicated rooms of houses, on just about every block so if you forgot something or suddenly have an urge you can get just about anything there.
I start each day with either a pitahaya (yellow dragon fruit) or a granadilla (Sweet Passion Fruit) followed by an egg scramble with mushrooms, avocado, cheese and sometimes bacon. I douse mine in a special hot sauce made from the tree tomato. If anyone wants they can stop by my house in Eureka cause I left one there 🙂 we also have coffee.We sometimes enjoy pork chops for breakfast..The eggs are all brown or if we get them from the mercados they will be multi colored Araucana eggs. Eggs are not refrigerated. Turns out they keep for quite a while just out on the counter. In the US they are usually washed and tumbled which removes the natural protective oils and speeds the decomposition so therefore they are refrigerated. Usually sold in quantities of 15 or 30 although we are seeing packages of a dozen now. They are graded by size. I also very much enjoy quail eggs which I buy in the supermarket 20 for $2.00 Hard boiled for three minutes they make an awesome snack. Milk is sold in quart size cartons and also is not refrigerated until it is opened. Also keeps for a long time on the counter. Hard cheeses are expensive. We buy a variety pack of cubed pieces. The avocados are much larger and very reasonable. They are available in a bunch of shapes and sizes, including small ones that have no pit. Because of the abundance if we get an itch for guacamole we just go ahead and make it. Mushrooms are about the same and packaged the same also. I buy pre sliced Criminis usually. Bacon is different in that this is pig country and I buy it by the kilo based on the meat to fat ratio. It is nicely stacked in the butchers case and is considerably thicker and more meaty. It is graded and I usually buy the best grade for about 14.00/Kilo. I usually get 200 to 250 grams at a time which is 8-10 slices. When cooked it doesn’t render a pan full of grease. Pancake mixes jams and loaves of bread are also available. We tend to buy the 7 grain loaves. Most ecuadorians buy the many assorted fresh rolls available. Too much bread for us but most ecuadorians we know have to have their fresh bread rolls daily and its not an option. This was true in most of the South American countries we visited also.
Cooking utensils are expensive here and most people seem to use very small frying pans.We bought, what for us, was a normal pan 28cm which is 11 inches. It was the largest we could find. We also went on a hunt for a pepper grinder. Finally found one but then have not found normal peppercorns. Just hot or a large puffy one that is very aromatic. Salt and pepper here are ground into a fine powder. In trying to figure out how to open cooking oil containers, which look just like ours, I have broken every one. Same with the tops on booze bottles. Frustrating but I’ll figure it out. We drink a lot of coffee. We drink instant because we like the flavor. It is a very high grade. Pam doesn’t like the coffee in restaurants because it is invariably espresso and no matter how much she tries to get them to water it down it is always way too strong for her. We have an electric water heater that looks like a coffee pot that has an automatic shut off. We also had these in Chile. Water boils at about 195 degrees here due to altitude so you have to let it boil longer to get it really hot. But its very convenient. No Keurigs here yet although we saw a version in Chile. I still drink my coffee with Irish Cream in it. Real Baileys here goes for $85.00 a bottle because of the tariffs. The ecuadorian equivalents costs $6,00 and are soy based.
Dinner is pretty much the same as home. The seasonings are different, The adobo seasonings are excellent and really add to the meats. The cuts of meat are also different and take a little getting used to. People here, as everywhere, eat a lot of chicken. We also like lentils and home made chicken soup/stew. On the coast we ate a lot of seafood especially langostino but up here it is quite expensive. we do buy shrimp however.
Quinoa is grown here and we eat it sometimes. Carrots can weigh over a lb each and are very good. Corn is mostly choclo, which has kernels the size of hominy and is a lot less sweet than our yellow corn. Squash is plentiful. Pumpkin varieties are quite popular, Zuchinni comes in round little squashes also.
We have all the cereals and granolas. Oatmeal is a different story..Regular oatmeal is not the same consistency as what we are used to. Most of the instant oatmeals are meant to be drank.
We don’t do much desert but the other night I decided to use some of the fresh bananas that had been given to Pam and had now ripened to make a banana bread. One problem with baking here is that baking powder is illegal and regulated. Restrictions have been loosened recently and now you can buy it in the spice section in small quantities but it always mixed with cream of tarter or something else. Apparently it is used in some drug manufacture, The bread turned out fantastic anyway.
K that’s enough. of this for now. We are about to leave to go have fish and chips in a restaurant downtown that does them special some fridays. Caters to expats of course..