From day one here in Quito I have been pleasantly surprised with both quality of food here and also my sense of adventure when it come to trying new things. Unfortunately, I was a rather “picky eater” back in the U.S. My excuse? – well I don’t really have one. I made a promise to myself several weeks ago that aside from chicken feet and cow tongue. I will try as many new foods here in Ecuador as I can, and if I end up not liking the food in question then I never have to try it again. This has turned out to be very rewarding, in fact some of my new favorite foods are things I never would have even tried in the past.
For example – Friends of mine at the school kept talking about how terrible “tomate de arbol” was. I remember seeing the fruit in a market one of my first weeks here and thought it looked strange and therefore never thought I would try it. Not to mention that more than one person on multiple occasions had described it’s “grossness”.
Every morning for breakfast my host-mom takes fresh fruit (that varies from day to day) and makes natural juice with a little sugar and water. At first I was not exactly a fan… It sometimes has seeds and other times is just… watery. Over time I have come to really enjoy my morning juice and little did I know one of my favorite juices contained Tomate de Arbol and I found out later that as a juice the fruit is rather delicious. This has made me realize we are all different and it is possible that my Host Mom is Wonderwoman and can make “gross” fruit delicious, but that is highly unlikely. What is more likely is that we all have different likes and dislikes and until we try a food, fruit or dish for ourselves we will never know..
A very typical plate of Latinamerica is Ceviche, a cold soup like dish made from raw ingredients that vary from place to place, and usually with shrimp, fish, or chochos (a bean). The first time I tried it was one fantastic day on the beach with friends from Ecuador, and from other countries. Ceviche is VERY popular on the beaches and is supposed to be the best when had actually on the beach. I wish I could say I enjoyed it, because it is a very traditional dish, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. I actually tried ceviche another time in class, when the professors at my school put together a cooking class where we all got to participate in preparing the dish. Yet, again a second time it is still not my favorite.
Being in Ecuador has taught me to try new things, especially when it comes to food. Like people in the States, Ecuadorians really like fast food. However, their fast food is slightly different than ours. While both are rather high in calories due to deep frying I have found Ecuadorian french fries (which are actually more like steak fries and found at street vendors and restaurants) to be absolutely delicious, and socially acceptable for a meal replacement.
These few examples are only a glimpse of the new foods I have tried, but if I wrote about all of them you might get bored. Overall food in Ecuador is different but in some ways much better. Most families don’t exactly keep food, but buy food everyday, which means less processed foods and more fresh ingredients. I think I will adopt some of the same ideas.. especially fresh fruit juice in the morning!