Ecuador cuisine is as diverse as its geography, and varies according to the region’s elevation. Along the coast people prefer foods like plantains and seafood. In the mountains people eat a lot of starches (potatoes, rice, bread, corn and yuca or cassava are all common) and meats.
Eggs are the most common breakfast food, often accompanied with bread and fresh fruit or plantains on the coast. Coffee is commonly served. Lunch is the main meal of the day and is almost always two courses, a soup and then a main meal. Dinner is either another soup and meat/starch meal or lighter fare.
Some typical Ecuadorian foods include:
Cuy or guinea pig is commonly eaten in the mountains. It is usually skewered and roasted.
Locro: a potato based soup made with cheese and avocado
Tronquito or Manguero soup is for adventurous eaters, made from bull penis.
Empanadas are a common breakfast or snack made from dough filled with meat or cheese and either fried or baked.
Llapingachos are a cheese and potato pancake.
Encebollada is a typical dish on the Coast featuring marinated chunks of fish, onion and spices.
The most popular drinks include coffee and fruit juices. Tea is also common, and you can find coca tea to drink to ward off altitude sickness. Popular alcoholic beverages are beer and aguardiente, a local liquor made from fermented sugar cane.
Even if you are on a budget, it is easy to eat out well in Ecuador. A lot of restaurants offer set meals for lunch and some offer them for dinner. This is a lot cheaper than ordering off of the menu and generally includes a soup and a rice and meat dish, and sometimes dessert as well. It is common for locals to eat these cheap set lunches out in restaurants, but less common for them to eat at restaurants for breakfast or dinner, so these meals can be more expensive eaten out. Bakeries also offer sweet and savory pastries and stuffed breads, for very little money.
After traveling on her own for three or four years, Chaya met up with Wade Shepard, the editor of VagabondJourney.com. They were married in 2009, and continue to travel the world together with their young daughter. From time to time Chaya blogs about family travel and life on the road. Chaya Shepard has written 102 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
Wade Shepard is an itinerant writer who has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of Ghost Cities of China, a regular contributor to Forbes, Citiscope, The Diplomat, and the South China Morning Post, and occasionally contributes to Reuters. This is his personal blog where he shares the stories, anecdotes, and observations from his travels that don’t fit in anywhere else.