Friday, February 15, 2008

Lesson in Traditional Ecuadorian Food Preparation

(Quito, Ecuador)- I took a great interest in the food that our hostess, Sonia Martinez, was making for us each night, so on Friday, she invited me into the kitchen to observe and take part in the preparation of the family meal.

My Professora slices pork for pan roasting.

The food is actually very, very simple. The meats will be roasted or fried in salt, garlic, and cumin. The latter is the key to the Ecuadorian flavors for meats.

The salads might be as simple as a lettuce and tomato item, or onions and tomatoes, but Sonia's homemade seasonings were great. She would rub sugar into the onion and then let them soak for about a half hour. She would rinse them and then dress any of her salads in vinegar, olive oil, salt, the juice of a small lime, and cilantro.

Rubbing sugar into the onions.

Plantains frying in oil.

Each meal would have at least two starches- almost always rice and then potatoes or plantains. On this night, the rice went by the wayside in favor of corn. The plantains were my favorite variety- the semi-sweet ones. Here is the table presentation of the full meal.

A traditional, special Ecuadorian meal: roast pork, corn, plantains, potatoes, and salad.

The food looks a little different here than in the US. The corn is not in perfect straight rows. The potatoes bought at smaller food kiosks come with soil still attached to them.
It was all very delicious, night after night. I especially appreciated the special invite to take part in the preparation. Sonia appeared to appreciate the enthusiasm. She told me that Ecuadorian men don't usually take an interest in the kitchen, unless they are chefs by trade. It may not be muy macho by local standards, but I enjoyed the lesson, and am looking forward to making a similar dish once back home.

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