Latin Culture: Ecuadorian Cuisine

A traditional Ecuadorian meal includes a bowl of soup for starter. The main plate is a dish of rice with a bit of salad (shredded lettuce, tomato, and onion) and a slice of meat. This comes with a glass of freshly-made juice. In 2000, an almuerzo would cost 15,000 sucres, or about sixty cents. Two years later the price had risen to nearly two dollars.

Some popular dishes include cangil con sopa, or popcorn with soup. Choclo con queso, or corn on the cob with slices of cheese, is another popular side dish. The Ecuadorian cheese is fresh, unlike the mature cheeses available in the U.S. If you let it sit on a plate in the refrigerator, it oozes whey and eventually shrinks in size as it dries. It comes in a plastic package and is cylindrical in shape, with a bland flavor much like tofu.

A locro is a potato soup. The people in my village made a locra de colas, or lamb tail soup. After cutting off the lambs’ tails in the spring, the shepherds would wash the tails well, burn the wool off, and use the tails to make a potato soup.

Two other popular beverages, aside from freshly-made juice, are coladas and batidos. A colada is a drink made of oatmeal. The nickname for a colada is Quaker (pronounced kwah’-kehr), because Quaker is also a popular brand of oatmeal. To make a colada, boil a small handful of oatmeal in water for five minutes, then put in a blender with fruit. Blend well, then pour through a colander. You have a healthful, fruit-flavored beverage!

A batido is much like a juice, except made with milk. The best batidos are made with frozen fruit blended with milk then strained through a colander. It is as good as an American milkshake!

The most famous Ecuadorian dish is not a dish at all. On every table in Ecuador you will find a small bowl of ají. Ají is a salsa made from red peppers, onions, and various other ingredients. Ecuadorians say that the quality of a cook doesn’t depend on their cooking as much as the quality of their ají! You can put ají in soup or over rice or wherever you please.

A recipe you can try is to make your own homemade cheese. Normally, fresh cheese is made with cuajo, a coagulator. But you can make cheese instantly, with great results, if you just do the following.

Bring two liters of milk just about to a rolling boil. Immediately remove from heat and, continually stirring, add a quarter cup to half cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice until the milk separates into curds and whey. Pour through a colander immediately to remove the whey. Salt the cheese, and enjoy

Mauricio Evlampieff
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