A case of mistaken identity (and other food adventures in Ecuador)

We planned to plunge right in and cook in the AirBnB apartment where we’re staying in the old city of Cuenca, Ecuador. With a little trepidation, we had decided to buy food as much as possible in our neighborhood mercado and tiendas, and we would try to limit our visits to the larger Supermaxi where expats shop.

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On our first day, we walked down the street to our local mercado with more than a hundred booths selling fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains.

Our shopping list was long, the noise factor was high, and we were trying to adjust to speaking and hearing Spanish. Confusion reigned. Oranges were on our list, and we bought 6. When we got back to the kitchen we looked at our purchase. Oranges? NOT!

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An orange and a granadilla, we discovered, are not the same fruit

No problem. We had purchased a number of fruits to make smoothies. The granadilla (a form of passion fruit) blended in nicely, and we now buy them or maracuyá (another passion fruit) on purpose and on a regular basis.

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Scoop out the soft interior with seeds. It’s sweet and bit tart at the same time.

People sell more foods on the street outside the Mercado – bags of limes, potatoes, ears of corn.   Sometimes we spotted food carts as well.

This food cart was selling ready to eat “codorniz.” We looked it up in our Spanish dictionary: quail eggs.

This food cart was selling ready to eat “codorniz.” We looked it up in our Spanish dictionary: quail eggs.

We bought 20 at the grocery, and then I made Huevos Rancheros for dinner one night, frying 5 for each of us.

We bought 20 at the grocery, and then I made Huevos Rancheros for dinner one night, frying 5 for each of us.

They are pretty small and not easy to crack open. The taste was a lot like chicken eggs, but the yolk wasn’t as rich.

Our neighbor, Trish, came for dinner one night and introduced us to tomaté de arbol. She cut one open and gave us a taste. Looked like a tomato, but the taste was milder. She had made a soup with potatoes and onions and added tomaté de arbol. Delicious!

At Yanapuma Spanish School, we learned that the tomaté de arbol is a fruit and makes a delicious juice. They were pretty shocked anyone would use it in a soup. (Hey! That soup was good!)

At Yanapuma Spanish School, we learned that the tomaté de arbol is a fruit and makes a delicious juice. They were pretty shocked anyone would use it in a soup. (Hey! That soup was good!)

Some weeks later we walked through the “Inca” garden at Pumapungo and spotted tomaté de arbol growing on short trees.

Some weeks later we walked through the “Inca” garden at Pumapungo and spotted tomaté de arbol growing on short trees.

Cooking for ourselves as we travel is determined by how well a kitchen is equipped, our abilities to work with new ingredients, and the cost of eating out. The kitchen in our AirBnB in Cuenca was pretty well stocked so we ate in often and tried local ingredients. We had no cookbooks so we prepared mostly American-style dishes with foods we found in the markets.

As Friday night approached, we grew nostalgic for an old home favorite. Why not make our own homemade pizza?

Joe checked the Spanish words for flour and yeast on his iPhone. We made our purchases, and Friday afternoon Beth made the dough.

Joe checked the Spanish words for flour and yeast on his iPhone. We made our purchases, and Friday afternoon Beth made the dough.

A homemade pizza is always wonderful – no matter where you happen to be in the world.

A homemade pizza is always wonderful – no matter where you happen to be in the world.

Food is such a huge part of any culture. It would be a shame to come all the way to Ecuador and only eat foods we already know…and to miss a few culinary adventures.

 

June 2016

 

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Ecuador, South America - 2016 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A case of mistaken identity (and other food adventures in Ecuador)

  1. I think markets are the best language teachers – but they can be wildly confusing. You’ll always remember the Spanish word for passion fruit, right?

  2. leggypeggy says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this return trip to the markets in Cuenca. I even recognise the market in the first pic. Lucky you. I am jealous, but appreciate that you’re sharing your adventures.

  3. Elisabeth Parker says:

    We enjoy your blogs so much! Our kind of stuff.

    Where to next?

    Betsy and Doug

    On Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 12:01 PM, simpletravelourway wrote:

    > simpletravelourway posted: “We planned to plunge right in and cook in the > AirBnB apartment where we’re staying in the old city of Cuenca, Ecuador. > With a little trepidation, we had decided to buy food as much as possible > in our neighborhood mercado and tiendas, and we would try to l” >

  4. plaidcamper says:

    Enjoyed your adventures in cooking – and it’s another fun way to soak up where you are staying if you’re prepared to take a little risk. Thank you!

  5. I really enjoyed the Tomato juice when in Peru and Ecuador. The passion fruit too! My big surprise was with the lemons. Not everything that looks like a lemon/lime/orange tastes like at home. Some of the limes were beyond bitter – only good for cooking.

  6. You are so right, Beth and Joe. We only ever book airbnb places with kitchens so we can do our own meals. We love going to the markets and trying local produce, and sampling the local food is one of the great pleasures of travelling. As for mistaken identity, I found while I was in Tokyo I would see food through Western eyes and think I knew what it was only to discover it was completely different, but equally delicious.

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