food is generally simple but tasty. Look out for typical
traditional Ecuadorian dishes in the different regions of the country.
My food photography may not be great, but the traditional recipes
have stood the test of time and the food was
dishes in the different regions of Ecuador are always worth a try and
planning your tour around the foods of each province does not seem over
The traditional recipes are handed down through families with
subtle variations in different towns.
of food photography will find some wonderful opportunities around the
country, with whole roast pigs in the highlands, mountains of cotton
candy at parades and elaborately decorated "bread babies" for the Day
of the Dead. Just don't forget to leave time to enjoy your
food as well as photographing it!
There are many traditional recipes
around the country based on corn (maize) pulped then steamed or boiled
wrapped in little leaf parcels of various shapes. The shape,
size, and sweet or savoury additions such as raisins, pulled meat or
spices, seem to depend on the area, the time of year and how the cook's
grandma used to make it.
or not you take a gourmet tour or plan your own epicurean adventure,
typical regional Ecuadorian dishes:
Ecuadorian dishes in the highlands (sierra)
the highland region of Ecuador are often based around potatoes,
sweetcorn, cheese and avocadoes. Typical highland Ecuadorian
little fried patties of mashed potato and cheese, often served with a
fried egg, avocado, and beetroot and sometimes sausage or pork as well.
Without the meat, llapingachos make a good meal for veggies,
of the easier to find options for vegetarian
food in Ecuador. Locro
is a filling potato and cheese soup.
spit roast or oven
roast pigs (hornado) can
often be seen at roadside restaurants and the crackling is fantastic.
Fritada, lumps of deep fried pork, are wonderful with a cold
beer and are often served with mote (a type of boiled corn) and
a salad of tomato and onion.
pig, "cuy", is a
traditional dish in the highlands, often reserved for special occasions
as they are not cheap. The guinea pigs are bred for the
they are not pets, and they taste delicious, though there is not
actually a lot of meat on them. You'll need to eat
with your fingers to get at all the crispy skin and tasty meat, so make
sure there's somewhere to wash your hands before settling on
location for your cuy experience.
a town northeast of Quito, is known for its regional speciality,
bizcochos, a type of buttery biscuit which you can watch being baked in
traditional wood-fired ovens, and dairy products.
Ecuador's costa or coastal region
Typical Ecuadorian dishes
in the costa makes use of local ingredients such as plantain (savoury
banana), yuca (a type of yam), coconut and rice. There are
also a wide
variety of subtropical and tropical fruits
(papaya, pineapple, starfruit and
many more) though these do not often appear on restaurant menus other
than as fresh juices.
is a staple in
the costa and appears in many forms, most of them very enjoyable.
Patacones are thick chunks of plantain, fried, bashed with a
stone, fried again and served with salt (and a cold beer, if
you can arrange it). Chifles are
thin deep-fried slices of plantain, rather like crisps.
Maduro con queso is a whole, barbequed ripe plantain split
open and filled with cheese, at its delicious best from the stall on
the corner at the Zapotal t-junction. Unripe or green
plantains are usually just referred to as verde (green), which can be
confusing. Bolones de verde are balls of unripe
plantain mashed with cheese - perhaps the best that
can be said is that they fill you up.
seafood dishes in
Ecuador's seafood is, of course, at its best and freshest on
Esmeraldas province, in the north, is rightly famous for its
fantastic "encocados" - fish or prawns in a rich coconut sauce,
usually served with rice and patacones.
Encocados are difficult to find outside of Esmeraldas, but
are one of the finest traditional Ecuadorian dishes, so
don't miss them if you are visiting the beach resorts of
Atacames or Sua.
raw seafood (or
boiled, in the case of prawns) marinated in lime or lemon juice with
chilli and onion, is perhaps the most famous traditional dish of
Ecuador, usually served with popcorn. Pick a clean
restaurant with a high
turnover for safe, fresh ceviche - get a local recommendation if at
"onionateds") are a wonderful local food, though not well
known outside of Ecuador. They consist of seafood in a tangy,
tomatoey soup with mashed yuca, onion and
coriander. Add plenty of lemon juice and
pepper, and popcorn, tostado
(toasted maize) or chifles (fried slices of plantain).
Encebollados are said to
cure a hangover and make a surprisingly good
holidays and festivals in Ecuador
also have special
foods associated with them. For example on 2nd November, All
Souls Day or the Day of the Dead, decorated bread babies (guaguas de
pan) are eaten. Colada morada is drunk at this time, a purple
drink made from a huge list of ingredients including black raspberries,
blueberries, dark maize flour, pineapple and a range of different
herbs and spices. At Easter, a special and very
soup, fanesca, is prepared with many different ingredients and
garnishes, all of which have their own significance and traditions.
your Ecuador trip coincides with any local
festivals or holidays, ask around to be sure you don't miss the
associated seasonal Ecuadorian dishes.
Dishes of Ecuador
Traditional foods of Ecuador, typical Ecuadorian dishes, local
specialities and traditional recipes, regional Ecuadorian cuisine and
tips on finding the best
food in Ecuador.
I'm much better at eating traditional foods than photographing them, so
apologies for the quality of the food photography.