Gastronomy in the
Glaciers, mountains, valleys, and volcanic soil creates a great wealth of agriculture in this region. The Andes are known for crops like the potato, maize, and mote. These crops are combined with meats to create the area’s traditional dishes.
The Andes Region is the coldest area of Ecuador and has the highest altitude. So, you can only find the traditional ingredients or animals in this region.
Listed below are some traditional dishes from the Andes region:
Hornado is a Creole dish where the pork is marinated and baked in firewood overnight then it’s served with potatoes or mote. This dish is characterized by its dressing made with aji rocoto, water, salt, onion, tomato, and some panela or chicha.
The pig was introduced by the Spanish to Ecuador and is still available in the region today.
You can find this dish in traditional markets where the sellers call out to passerby to come enjoy their delicious dishes and secret recipes.
Ceviche isn’t just about seafood. This ceviche dish is made with white beans (chochos), which are native to the Andes. The beans are combined with tomatoes, maize tostado, red onion, and cilantro and marinated in a citrus blend.
This is a very popular dish in the Andes and can be found at street food carts in Quito. Like other forms of ceviche, the beans are marinated in lime juice and are served with corn and banana chips. Cevichochos has also added new ingredients over time to create absolutely delicious combinations.
The chocho beans are also high in protein, so they are a good source of energy after a long day of exploring all Ecuador has to offer.
This is another Creole dish whose taste depends entirely on its preparation. Pieces of pork are cooked in boiling water mixed with orange juice, salt, onion, cumin, and garlic in a traditional in a bronze paila. Once the water evaporates, the meat is fried in its own fat and then cooked in firewood.
This traditional Andean dish can be found at markets, restaurants, and food fairs. And, it’s a popular dish for people to prepare for events and holidays.
A good Fritada is defined by its sides, which can include plantains, llapingachos, hominy, fava beans, yuca, corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, boiled potatoes, and maíz tostado.
Llapingacho is a potato dish made with fresh cheese and fried onions. This dish is both pre-Hispanic and Creole. It is made by boiling peeled potatoes in salted water until softened, then adding annatto and crushing the potatoes, until they have a firm consistency. Finally, the potatoes are shaped into a tortilla-like shapes and fried with lard.
It’s named based on the Kichwa word ‘llapina’ which means to crush and the Spanish word ‘mush’, which refers to a soft mass. They are traditionally served with chorizo, fried egg, beets, and avocado salad.
This is an everyday meal found in restaurants, markets, and local food fairs.
Locro de papa
This Pre-Hispanic dish is a thick soup which is essentially made of potatoes and cheese.
First white onion and annatto are fried in lard. Then chopped potatoes are added and mixed with the onion. Next, the mixture is boiled in water until the potatoes are soft and the dish has a thick consistency, finally you add milk and serve the soup with cheese and avocado.
Potatoes have been an Andean Highlands crop since ancient times and old peasants cooked at least three varieties of potatoes to vary the flavor and consistency of the dish.
You can find Locro de papa in markets and restaurants. Many families also cook this dish at home experimenting with different ingredients to redefine the dish at all levels.
Sampling this small rodent is considered a rite of passage for most backpackers, if not all travelers.
Since it is expensive, at about $20 per cuy, Ecuadorians only eat it to celebrate special occasions.
A whole cuy is usually too much for a single person, especially if you just want a taste. So, it’s suggested that travelers order a single piece or a quarter cuy to find out if they actually like it first.
Cuy is very greasy, with little meat. It's mostly skin, bones, and cartilage. So, expect to use your hands, and get messy.
Locals love to eat the whole entire animal. The small and crunchy paws and creamy brains are very popular with the locals.