Relocation Guide: Ecuador’s diverse food supply
LiveTheLifeinEcuador | February 16, 2015
There’s a growing number of restaurants that offer quintessential American comfort food in Ecuador. However, if you’re thinking about moving here, it’s good to get acquainted with the local flavors and cuisine. As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do! And when in Ecuador, eat as the Ecuadorians do!
Ecuadorian food is very soulful, diverse and rather under-represented on the world stage. The cuisine varies depending on the region, with each of them having their own special and distinctive delicacies. One can expect a lot of soups, meat dishes and hearty flavors that are essential to South American cuisine. Surrounded by pristine coastal areas and boasting a tropical climate, expect a lot of fresh seafood and fresh produce – some of which may be new to you, so it is highly encouraged that you explore local markets and restaurants that offer local cuisine so you can learn more and explore what Ecuador has to offer in a more personal way.
Typical Ecuadorian cuisine in the highlands (sierra)
Cuisine from the highlands usually has these usual suspects: potatoes, sweet corn, avocados and cheese. There are also a variety of meat dishes here made of pork and beef, as well as guinea pig, considered to be a local delicacy. Typical dishes that you should definitely try include Ilapingachos (deep fried patties made with mashed potatoes and cheese, served with egg, avocado and beetroot which may come with sausage or a slice of pork), whole roasted pigs (locally called hornado), and fritada (deep fried pork).
Cuisine along the coast
With the Pacific edging Ecuador on the west, you can expect plenty of options when it comes to fresh seafood fare like shrimp, crab and lobster which you can get straight from the local fishermen yourself. Just one of the local seafood dishes you should definitely try is ceviche, a raw seafood dish served with lemon or lime juice that is also usually served with popcorn. You should also definitely try arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) or arroz con camarones (rice with shrimp), which you can get pretty much anywhere, as these are staple dishes throughout the country.
What you’ll notice is that a lot of the dishes in the coastal region use ingredients like plantain, rice, coconut and yam. Plantain is a huge part of coastal cuisine and is considered to be a very versatile ingredient. Used in a variety of local dishes, it can be thinly sliced as chips or mashed with cheese for a more savory and filling dish.
Exotic tropical fruits
When it comes to fruits and fresh produce, Ecuador has plenty of exotic fruits and vegetables for you to explore. Just some of the more not quite well known yet delicious tropical fruits that you should definitely try are mangosteen, dragon fruit, borojo (a fruit native to the Amazon), guanbanana, and the rambutan.
If you’re looking for something a little closer to home when it comes to shopping, Ecuador has a popular supermarket chain called “SuperMaxi” where you can find your well-loved American products, from potato chips and soda to dog food and hygiene supplies. They also sell cookware, kitchen and home supplies like wine glasses, pillows and kitchen towels.