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Eating Out in Ecuador

While some Ecuadorian dishes should really only be sampled by those with the strongest of stomachs (and we’ll let you know all about them later), there are many others which will certainly please even the most particular palate.

Ecuador is renowned for its delicious seafood which can be found throughout the country but is at its best in coastal regions. Some local favourites include corvine (white sea bass) and trucha (trout). And some local dishes include cevice a seafood dish marinated in lemon and onions and which can consist of shrimp, shellfish, squid or a combination of all three and encocados, a relatively new culinary phenomenon which are seafood dishes cooked in coconut milk.

Soups and stews are probably the most popular type of dish in Ecuador and are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Known locally as caldos, sopas or locros the most popular is caldo de gallina which is a type of chicken soup but chupe de pescado , a fish and vegetable soup, is also pretty good.

Another thing you should be aware off when it comes to eating out in Ecuador is that all dishes come with an accompanying sauce known as aji. A hot sauce which varies in spiciness from restaurant to restaurant it is usually on the table and if it’s not just ask. Furthermore, sample a little before covering your meal as some can be quite hot or ‘picante’.

Now, a little word on the aforementioned dodgy delicacies. Where you see cuy on a menu know that you are eating a roasted guinea pig, if it’s caldo de pata you’re thinking about then you’ll be chowing down on soup made from boiled cow hooves – nice. Yaguarlocro is another dish popular among the locals and is a potato soup garnished with sprinklings of animal blood. And, for the piece de resistance, tronquito – a soup made from the penis of a bull. Well you can’t say we didn’t warn you.

It is also necessary to provide a warning about safety when it comes to food and drink during your stay. Only drink bottled or boiled water and when in restaurants or bars ask for drinks ‘sin hielo’ (without ice) as it is usually made from tap water. If ordering the aforementioned seafood dish, ceviche, it is also necessary to exercise caution as it is one of the primary causes of cholera. In general, choosing a restaurant that’s popular with the locals is a good indication that it is safe to dine there. Finally, if you want to sample Chica, a traditional Ecuadorian tipple, avoid doing so in more rural areas in particular as it can also be quite unhygienic. Better still, avoid it altogether as it’s quite hard to tell which is acceptable and which isn’t.

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