I love seeing new places. I love meeting new people. These aspects are key components to travel. But let’s be honest. You can’t travel without food. From markets to trattorias to café lounges, eating is a prime motivation for seeing the world. Even though I’m from New York, a capital of international dining, I’d rather have my pasta in Bologna, udon in Osaka, and pad thai in Bangkok. After 9.5 months in South America, I’ve learned that one of the best places for good food is Ecuador.
Locro de Papa
An insanely rich potato soup, locro de papa is a creamy dish topped with fresh avocado and cheese. Creamed potatoes thicken the broth and bubble over like lava. Cubes of cheese swim along, melting into the potatoes in a stringy mosaic. The avocado is the crowning glory. Cool and decadent slices of the green fruit temper the steaming bowl and add another velvety layer of richness.
Ceviche with Popcorn
Every Latin country has its own version of ceviche. Whether it be pulpo, pescado, or mixto, the ceviche in Ecuador is citrusy and always served with popcorn. Little clouds of salty crunch add unbelievable texture to tender seafood. With hot sauce and a frigid Pilsener beer, Ecuadorian ceviche is a complete meal or late afternoon snack.
Trucha ala Plancha
Meaning grilled, “ala plancha” seafood is scorched to grill-mark perfection, and one of the most popular marine choices throughout the country is trout. Many restaurants serve this fish whole, head-on and eyes staring. But it’s all part of the fun and exploration. The meat is sweet and in better establishments—even in the mountain markets of Otavalo—you can taste the sea.
Yellow Tomato Juice
With a vibrant hue like the sun, yellow tomato juice is tangy like orange juice but sweet like cherries—all blended together in one glass. The result is my favorite Ecuadorian drink. Forget about health benefits such as antioxidants and cancer fighting punch, yellow tomato juice is better than coffee in the morning. You’re practically drinking in the morning sunlight.