The food in Ecuador is pretty basic. I compare it to its neighbor’s food of Colombia for all meals. In Ecuador breakfast is basically bread, fruit, tea, juice, and maybe some eggs (boiled, fried, scrambled). Obviously, there is a wide variety of creams to choose from ranging from butter, margarine, dulce de leche, fruit cream, etc. It isn’t much but it works as breakfast isn’t all that fancy like in other countries.
But when it’s lunch time, things become varied depending on one’s budget. I prefer to eat what most of the Ecuadorians eat which is a simple lunch consisting of soup and a main dish of rice, beans, vegetables, and some kind of meat (pork, chicken, beef, fish). The soup can be different as well and it generally depends on the chef’s choosing. I think of it as the appetizer of lunch.
The main course like I said varies on a person’s budget but the overwhelmingly number of people in Ecuador only live on a range of US$250/month (more if they are lucky or educated or technically trained. So the people try to keep it reasonable with their lunches as well paying from US$1.75 to US$2.50 for a soup and main course. It’s not fancy but hey, when you’re living close to poverty, there isn’t much else to go for. In my opinion, it’s pretty damn good if you ask me as that lunch will fill me up for several hours.
If people have more money, that means that they have more options. There are all kinds of restaurants in Ecuador with the most prevalent ones serving Colombian, Peruvian, Chinese, and empanadas. Since being here in Ecuador, I don’t eat any Colombian or Peruvian food since I know what the food looks like and should taste like from my travels. But I suppose for the majority of the people, they cannot freely travel since most do not have money so the food and restaurants have to go to the people. One popular dish that I’ve seen walking around town have been the empanadas, a specialty of Chile and Argentina.
I’ve already written about empanadas in both Chile and Argentina but the ones in Ecuador can vary in size and composition. It’s like a mix of both Chile and Argentina except a little more pricier as the people here cook them on demand, rather than cook them, put them in a glass case, and then sell them off later.
Another popular choice that the people have here is the Chinese food as known as Chifa which is also well-known in Peru. Like in anywhere else in the world, Chinese restaurants can be hit-or-miss with tasty dishes. I’ve been to some where they just sucked and others where it just amazing.
I’ve tried looking for one particular kind of specialty dish here in Ecuador – Cuy, Spanish for guinea pig, but all the responses I’ve gotten were that the restaurants were far away and costly (more than I paid for in Peru!). I suppose the people don’t really eat Cuy in the city but rather in the mountains and the jungle, away from city-people who might be offended. I think it’s funny when I ask the locals about Cuy and they become all surprised how I want to eat it but even more so when they find out that I’ve eaten it more than once! Hey, I’m adventurous – what can I say? I can eat almost anything out here in this country and still have not gotten sick like some of the other Westerners I’ve talked to.
If I could only find a restaurant that served monkey brains, snakes, turtles, and cuy… all in the same place!