Only a few restaurants in Quito still serve cuy (roasted guinea pig) anymore, and it has become an exotic food. Although still common in remote village cuisines, even in urban Ecuador the sides would include potatoes, corn and grains in a variety of forms.
Giant shrimp do not belong in the central Andes of Ecuador, but they do on the long Pacific coast. Modern transportation provides the means today to easily market foods within geographic regions.
Quinoa, potatoes and corn are but three of a copious number of food stuffs indigenous to the Central Andes. Spanish conquest in the 16th century spread both these and many other agricultural products worldwide and introduced pigs and beef to South America. Today highways allow Ecuador’s Amazon River and Pacific Ocean fish and seafood to be served fresh in Quito at 9,000 feet elevation.
In a recent trip to Quito I explored seven restaurants that firmly base their menus on traditional cuisine yet take a liberal hand their reinterpretation for the 21st century plate.
Since the start of history gold has been connected to the divine and the boundaries of people, state and heaven have intertwined in myriad and mysterious patterns. In post conquest 16th century Quito (Ecuador), An A-list of priests, monks and nuns from four of the Church’s most influential religious orders provided the patronage for a celebrated era of artistic expression.
Sumptuous interior decorations, intricate carvings and golden altars express prominent Moorish geometrical figures, Italian Renaissance style and European baroque architecture. In the 1970s UNESCO dubbed it “Quito Baroque” in their 1978 designation of Quito as a World Heritage Site.
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At least 4,000 varieties of potatoes grow in the Andean Highlands that encompass territory stretching from northern Argentina through Ecuador. An important food staple for all pre-Columbian Andean cultures, the Incas created chunu – dehydrated potatoes that could be stored for up to a decade.
Read how a vegetable becomes a national icon and follow a simple recipe for an Ecuador national dish: