Friday, April 22, 2016

The Diversity of Ecuadorian Cuisine

Ecuador is primarily known for the Galapagos Islands where Charles Darwin developed his evolution theories. However it should also be known for its' varied cuisine that reflects its history and topography.It's an interesting blend of sea and land along with some ancient recipes..

Like most South American countries Ecuador has a mountainous area leading into coastal lowlands. Pork chicken and beef are popular in the mountains along with cuy or guinea pig. The last,  a shocker to any North American who had one as a companion, is made with garlic and native chilis along with pisco, an Ecuadorian brandy.It's one of the country's most ancient dishes, first being cooked by the Incas. Cuy was a sign of wealth too, being enjoyed by the local Incan royalty and used also to portend omens.However the country is also known for its' other dishes such as their version of arroz con pollo that is highly spiced with cumin and achiote, a plant derivative that adds a red color to the dish. There's also fritada de gallina, chicken made with fermented corn drink or chicha along with garlic and onion.There's also a kind of chicken fried rice ,chaulafan de pollo that's spiked with bacon, scrambled eggs and even raisins along with veggies and spices. Students make arroz con huevos, rice and eggs tweaked with plantains and avocados,Plantains or plantanos are also big in Ecuadorian cuisine. They are usually stuffed with cheese or topped with it.

The country has a lush coastline and its' reflected in its seafood dishes. They're mostly shrimp but cooked in  variety of different ways There is arroz con camarones , a kind of paella spiked with native spices along with onions , peppers and tomatoes. Chorizos, those highly spiced pork sausages can also be added.Another paella influenced dish is arroz marinero which is chock full of not only shrimp but also clams, squid and bay scallops.The Ecuadorians also appreciate beef and pork dishes as well as lamb. Many home kitchens produce carne colorada, a braised beef dish that's been marinaded in a mix of beer, garlic and oregano. Pork is also a staple and it's the base of pernil, a holiday  pork dish popular throughout South and Central America.It's a pork loin marinated in bitter orange juice along with clove and cinnamon for a few hours. Lamb is also marinaded , especially in the dish seco de borrego, A combo of beer and wine is poured over it as well as the usual Ecuadorian combo of achiote and cumin.The Ecuadorians love goat too and make a stew out of it with the native fruit naranjillo, a type of kiwi that has a tart  and acidic flavor. Chicha is also added for some kick.

Ecuador is an interesting country , full of wild and wonderful dishes. They reflect a country that has both Incan and European influences in its' cuisine. The food is tasty, flavorful and good.

Remember those affected by the Ecuadorian earthquake. Donate to the Red Cross now.

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