Comida Típica

15 Jun

I say that I knew before arriving in Quito that my diet would generally consist of rice, beans, meat, and eggs.  But I swear, if I knew how few fruit and vegetables I would be eating, I would have eaten a hearty salad and a basket of fruit every meal for two weeks leading up to my departure. Ecuadorian food is considerably different from the Mexican food we eat in California–they don´t use spices, sauces, or pico de gallo to add flavor to their white rice, pinto beans, and meat cooked in butter. They occasionally cook fish, but it is very expensive, so it´s mostly in pieces in a soup. Speaking of soup, I´ve never had this much soup in my life. Instead of starting meals off with a salad, each person is given a generous helping of chicken broth with a mix of yucca, defrosted peas and corn, and some pieces of meat. Ecuadorians don´t eat anything unless it´s boiling hot, and I always get asked if I dislike the soup if I wait too long for it to cool. The next course is almost always a plate of rice, beans, and meat. Sometimes we get things made of corn, like un tamal (it´s still unlear to me how it is different from a tamale, but everyone assures me that it is) or una humita (basically a sweet tamale with cheese inside). After dinner, we drink tea or Nescafé. Shocking fact: They don´t drink real coffee ANYWHERE! Even some coffee shops give you instant coffee!

I´m sure that my experience with Ecuadorian food is not all-inclusive, since I have to make sure to follow a gluten-free diet. I didn´t think this would be that hard, but Ecuadorians use harina de trigo in a surprising amount of their dishes. Luckily, my señora is great about it, and often gives me alternative meals. It´s my señor that I have to worry about! He´s quite mischievous and tries to convince me to try other things, mostly types of bread. I´m wise to his tricks, and laugh, say thank you, but no thank you, and often Yolanda, mi señora, comes running in and yells at Renè for trying to poison me.

Honestly, after almost two weeks, the gluten-free food here has become kind of redundant. It´s all cooked with love, and generally tases delicious, but I´d be lying if I said I didn´t miss some food from home. After my battle with Ecuadorian salads last weekend, I realize that I need to make sure that everything I eat here is cooked and disinfected. However, I can´t tell you how hard it is to walk by the supermercado every day and see people buying vegetables and fruit. So, today I said no! to un tamal at Bon K-fe and went to the supermarket to do some research. Unprepared to wash, disinfect, and potentially quarantine vegetables and fruit, I settled for some string cheese, lunch meat, and tortilla chips. I reluctantly decided to save the war against E. coli for another day. Stacked together, the cheese, meat, and chips kind of looked like sandwiches (if you squinted your eyes a bit and used your imagination), and it surprised me how much they reminded me of home. I think I´m going to do this more often, occasionally allow myself a break from la comida típica and enjoy some more familiar flavors.

First thing to cross off the list: Snickers. I finally found a Snickers here in Quito, and I have to say, it was the highlight of my day. For a country that produces so much chocolate, they sure don´t seem to enjoy it enough. I was tempted to buy two extra to share with my señor y señora, to show them what my family stashes in our chocolate cabinet, but I decided I should only give chocolate to diabetics once. Regardless, these small tastes of home seemed to span the 3,800 miles and make my little bit of homesickness disappear. At least until I finished licking the caramel off of the Snickers wrapper.

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2 Responses to “Comida Típica”

  1. Eugene Song June 15, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    Keep it up you’re gonna come back to the States in triathlete shape!

  2. Patricia June 19, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    Pobrecita muchacha con eso de las comidas, pero que bueno que estas consciente de la necesidad de cuidar lo que comes, por ahora tendras que sacrificarte para evitar que te enfermes. Te felicito eres una chica muy positiva ya que estas enfrentando todas estas diferencias con buen animo. Sigue adelante con tus nuevas experiencias. Un abrazo que Dios te bendiga

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