Recently, my mom and I travelled to Ecuador to volunteer at a small organic farm in the Galapagos Islands, and to explore the country. In the next series of blog posts, I will be describing my experience in Ecuador, starting with Part One: Food Explorations.
Our hotel breakfast was our first meal in Ecuador. When we entered the dining
area/reception area, we were immediately greeted by a woman who asked us (in Spanish) what we wanted to eat. Unfortunately, both my mom and I do not understand or speak Spanish, so we both stared at her helplessly, until my mom pulled out her phone to use Google Translate (the translate app became our best friend on this trip!). For breakfast, we had scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, bread, and yogurt. All pretty standard breakfast foods at my house!
Thankfully, avocados are highly abundant and extremely cheap in Quito, Ecuador. One supermarket that I ventured into was selling five avocados for $1 total! Every lunch and dinner that we had in Quito included avocado (thank God!!).
Below is one of my lunches in Quito. Since I am pescetarian, it was a bit difficult to order food, since the majority of the dishes contain chicken, beef or pork. But, I was able to find this vegetarian dish. Since the water in Ecuador is not safe for travelers, I could not consume any raw vegetables or fruit washed in tap water. Thus, I ate close to no vegetables in Quito 😦 (When we arrived back in America, I had a huge salad and green juice immediately!).
The dish pictured includes: half a “salad” of half an avocado, a couple lettuce leaves, and a slice of tomato, with steamed green beans and a tiny carrot slice, steamed corn, and two llapingacho (fried potato cake).
Throughout my time in Quito, I found myself constantly eating corn, rice, and potatoes. Additionally, fried foods (like slachipapas-fries) are very popular here.
So, if you are going to Ecuador, be prepared for solely carbs and protein. Not my favorite type of food, but, to each his own!
Thankfully, I was able to find some healthier food at a restaurant we stumbled upon. The dish included a humongous piece of salmon, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, and avocado. Freshly baked bread rolls, salad, and cheese also came with the meals.
Throughout my time in Ecuador, I probably drank juice (jugos) every day, as it is a very standard drink with meals. At home, juice is extremely rare, as it is either too sweet or too expensive. But, in Ecuador, since we couldn’t drink the water, juice was the only other option. Some restaurants served freshly squeezed juice! Popular options included naranjilla juice, orange juice, blackberry juice, guava juice, guayaba juice, guanabana (soursop) juice, maracuya juice, and papaya juice.
Unsurprisingly, dinner was also solely rice, corn, and meat 😦 However, the one exception was ceviche, a sour soup with small chunks of seafood, onions, and tomatoes. Every chance I could get, I ordered this dish because it was delicious and not fried.
The first picture is an appetizer: small plantain “cups” with cheese, some kind of salsa, mushroom, and avocado sauce.
After traveling around Quito for several days, we headed to the GALAPAGOS ISLANDS! I was very excited about this part of the trip because the Galapagos is well known for its abundant wildlife and beauty.
My mom and I lived on a small farm in San Cristobal island. The farm is located in a very rural part of the island, so there were no easily accessible restaurants in walking distance. We cooked our own meals, and had to browse in supermarkets often. Although one would expect that with farms occupying 90 percent of the island, produce would be abundant and cheap, we found that the opposite was true. Families in the Galapagos usually farm for themselves and sometimes the surrounding community, so all other foods must be imported, making everything very expensive. One jar of imported peanut butter costed $12! But, the homemade peanut butter sold at a few restaurants was only about $2. Also, all of the packaged foods in the supermarkets (flour, cereal, rice, snacks, etc.) were all enriched with various chemicals to boost their nutrient quantity.
We did travel to explore the other islands for a couple days with a tour group. Since the meals were from a pre-selected menu for tourists, we essentially had the same foods every day: soup, a main dish of rice, vegetables, and seared fish, and dessert.
If you are traveling to Ecuador, or another Spanish speaking country, here is a list of Spanish terms related to food that I used constantly during my trip. Note: I learned Spanish in elementary school, so these terms may not be the correct spelling or grammar, the list is just for beginners 🙂
- Desayunos (breakfast), almuerzo (lunch)
- Quanto questa? (how much does it cost?)
- Pescado (fish)
- Camaron (shrimp)
- Ceviche (popular seafood dish)
- Jugo (juice)
- Queso (cheese)
- Pan (bread)
- Aguacate (avocado)
- Huevos (eggs)
- Leche (milk)
- Agua (water)
- Con (with, ex. cereal with milk)
Overall, I would have to say that Ecuador is far from a healthy foodie haven. However, the travel experiences make the country more than worth the trip.
Stay tuned for the next parts in this Ecuador series, in which I will share more about my experience living on a farm!