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