Food and Drink in Ecuador
One of the most enjoyable things about travel can be sitting down in a nice restaurant, after a great day out, to tuck into some of the local delicacies. This can be true of wherever you find yourself, and Ecuador is no exception! Although Quito, Guayaquil and the other larger cities boast a wide variety of international cuisine, it's always easy to find real Ecuadorean food and a great setting to enjoy it in. With such varied geography and climate, you can enjoy a whole different set of tasty treats throughout your holiday in Ecuador.
Starters: Soups and Seafood
Particularly in the highlands, the traditional starter is a soup; almost all meals will include soup as a starter and a set menu (menú del dia) will usually be soup of the day followed by a choice of mains. One of Ecuador's classic dishes is locro - a hearty soup of potatoes, maize and grated cheese, usually with a lot of other vegetables thrown in. This is good nutritious stuff and for a bit of a flavour kick, try doing what the locals do and stir in some aji (spicy sauce) as well.
If you're on the coast, then unsurpisingly seafood features prominently: chupe de pescado is a tasty fish and vegatable alternative soup or you could also try the ceviche - the excellent local lobster or prawns marinated in lime juice.
Main Courses: Meet the Meat
Main courses tend to show a much greater variety than the starters, depending on where in the country you are. In the highlands, grilled chicken is a popular choice, and if you're feeling more adventurous then roast guinea pig is definitely something worth mentioning on your postcards home! Secos (stews) are also always popular, whether of chicken, beef or pork. On the coast fish and seafood often feature, and you will also often find goat on the main courses alongside other meats. In the jungle, the Amazon basin adds an astonishing variety of river-fish to the menu and in the highlands, the trout and other river fish are lip-smackingly good.
Whatever you choose for your main course will usually be accompanied by both rice and one of either papas (potatoes), menestra - (beans/lentils), or yucca (particularly in the rainforest). You will also commonly get a small portion of patacones or chifles - fried slices of plantain. As with all Ecuadorean food, you can usually find coastal food in the jungle, jungle food in the highlands, and all the other variations on this theme. As an aside, it's worth noting that Ecuadoreans tend not to eat a dessert course (and you wonder why when you taste their chocolate) but more up-market restaurants will offer a variety of pudding options, and if you do find yourself in the jungle then we urge to try some of the incredible jungle fruits that you just can't get over here.
Drinks in Ecuador
When it comes to soft drinks, the normal fizzy drinks are available everywhere but we recommend you go for the superb local fruit juices. As noted above, the various jungle fruits mean there will be many options that are literally untranslatable but that doesn't make them any less delicious! Despite Ecuador being an important coffee producer, the quality of available coffee is surprisingly low but if you find the right place you can enjoy a really tasty cup of home-grown caFe and it's the perfect start to a day! Moving on to harder tipples, wine is usually Argentinian or Chilean and is relatively expensive compared to the really rather good local beer. The most popular brand is Pilsener but our favourite is Club Verde - it's usually a whole 20p more for a bottle, but hey: you're on holiday...