Written by: Iliana Angelina Coronel
Ecuador is located in one of the most privileged areas of the planet, and has a cuisine that offers a variety of dishes with different combinations of ingredients. The country is divided into four regions with different customs and habits, all interesting and diverse. The main spoken language in Ecuador is Spanish. Ecuador straddles the equator, from which it takes its name.
Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, varying with the altitude and associated agricultural conditions. Most regions in Ecuador follow the traditional three course meal of soup, a second course which includes rice and a protein such as meat or fish, and then dessert and coffee to finish. Supper is usually lighter, and sometimes consists only of coffee or herbal tea with bread. In the highland region, pork, chicken, beef, and cuy (guinea pig) are popular and are served with a variety of grains, especially rice and corn or potatoes.
In the coastal region, seafood is very popular, with fish, shrimp and ceviche being key parts of the diet. Generally, ceviches are served with fried plantain (chifles y patacones), popcorn or tostado. Plantain- and peanut-based dishes are the basis of most coastal meals. Encocados (dishes that contain a coconut sauce) are also very popular. Churrasco is a staple food of the Coast Region, especially Guayaquil. Arroz con menestra y carne asada (rice with beans and grilled beef) is one of the traditional dishes of Guayaquil, as is fried plantain which is often served with it.
Native of Ecuador, Iliana Angelina Coronel explains: The main foods used in the Ecuadorian coastal cuisine are fish, especially trout and sea bass, as well as many other varieties of seafood. Food varieties are abundant here, and include lamb, pork, beef, turkey, potatoes, bananas, fruits and vegetables. Ecuadorian foods are flavored with various spices such as coriander, parsley, cinnamon and of course the famous chilis, ranked as the best accompaniment of native Ecuadorian cultural cuisine by far.
I can remember growing up in my country as if it was yesterday, simply through the aromas of traditional Ecuadorian dishes cooking on the fire. These time-tested native dishes have created a record of important moments in my life with family and friends. Many good times I can recall revolved around food, just like in many cultures around our planet, and these times make you realize that life is one and the same for all people. Each day must be enjoyed to the fullest.
The mountains of Ecuador present the most authentic way of life here, where the people of our country work the corn and grain we use as a staple in many of our dishes. It’s fantastic how certain combinations of foods are used to create the many wonderful finished products we enjoy here. Humitas for example is prepared combining fresh ground corn with onions, eggs and spices that vary on the region, and on each family’s tradition. The dough is wrapped in a corn husk, but steamed rather than baked or boiled. Ecuadorian humitas may also contain cheese. This dish is so traditional in Ecuador that they have developed special pots just for cooking humitas!
Then there is Yahuarlocro, a traditional dish of the Ecuadorian cuisine. It is a light stew prepared with meat and entrails of lamb including intestines, liver, lung, tongue, rumen, etc. It’s usually served with fried lamb blood, avocado and pickled red onion rings too. It can be consumed as a snack or as a main dish depending on the size of the plate. It’s especially popular in the Ecuadorian Andes mountain range and is considered a representative dish of the Ecuadorian cuisine. Its recipe and heritage is based on a soup that is linked with blood, an old tradition in Europe that we enjoy it in Ecuador made in our own style.
When talking about food in Ecuador, one cannot leave out Ceviche! It is one of the most popular foods in this country. It’s a little lighter than the Peruvian-style ceviches, and is not eaten only on the coast. In fact, this dish is very popular in all regions of Ecuador.
The Guatita is another intricate part of the Ecuadorian cuisine. It’s a very interesting dish served hot, and is typically a beef stew that can be made with tripe or booklet, and is served with peanut sauce and potatoes. At the same time it is also recommended fried. It is a meal that is prepared with chunks of pork cooked in its own juices and served with a corn-based support. One of the most prestigious dishes eaten in some country towns and small villages of the Sierra is the guinea pig.
After enjoying one of these banquets, it is common practice to change up the flavors with rich sweets like coconut candies, pancakes or fruit such as tropical mango, passion fruit, banana, papaya or melon.
The world needs to become more aware of these styles of Latin cuisine rooted in history and rich in custom, where combining ancestral techniques with modern methods has been very successful in Ecuador for centuries. Visit Ecuador soon and enjoy the unique lifestyles of these proud Latin people. Tell them DinnerReviews.com© and Iliana sent you!
Iliana Angelina Coronel: Our newest writer is a young Ecuatoriana professional with a unique combination of business and technical skills, offering the kitchen a combination of great new things. She is the owner and executive chef of ‘Angelina & Jo’, an exclusive business that offers a diverse platform of services to help keep today’s busy families satiated in Maryland, USA. Her restaurant and business does everything from catering, personal chef services, party planning, barbecues, to picnics and much more. Her extensive knowledge of food ranges from traditional Latin dishes to gourmet cuisine, and with her exquisite presentation and dedication to her craft, her meals are transformed into a delight for all of your senses.
“Cooking is a great gift that I like to share with people”. Visit Iliana’s Twitter page at: @ilianangelina