It’s officially over halfway through our semester! Time has absolutely flown by. We are spending 17 days straight in Quito (a new record) before leaving for our Independent Study Projects (ISP). My classmates and I will be scattered all over the country for four weeks in order to conduct independent research and write a research paper. I’m still working out the details, but I’m planning on studying frog populations in a Cloud Forest reserve near Baños.
For this week’s blog post, I’m going to write about a subject near and dear to my heart: food. Food in Ecuador has been an experience, to say the least. I’m a vegetarian so I haven’t tried cuy (guinea pig) like some of my friends, but I have eaten my fair share of exotic fruits.
My favorite part of food in Ecuador has been all the new fruits that I have been able to try. Foodborne illness can be common in Ecuador, so I’ve only tried new fruits at my home-stay or fruits from the frutería that have peels. One of my favorite new fruits is the mora, a berry very similar to the blackberry. It is deliciously tart and my host mom makes a scrumptious juice from it. I’ve also eaten a lot of tomate del arbol (tree tomato). Some people say that tomate del arbol tastes like tomatoes, but I don’t taste it. I have tomate del arbol juice with breakfast every morning and this fruit is also a popular dessert. We often have granadillas for a snack at school. This fruit has a thick orange peel and fleshy seeds on the inside. I’m personally not a fan of this fruit because I feel like I’m eating crunchy fish eyeballs, but lots of people love it.
Most of my new fruits have come in the form of juice. My host family makes fresh juice for every meal, and I have had many many different kinds of fruit juices. Here’s a list of some of my favorites: guanábana, naranjilla, maracuyá, piña, and mora.
Unfortunately, I can’t just drink fruit juice for a semester and expect to be happy and healthy at the end. Here is my typical day in food:
• Hot chocolate
• Fresh tomate del arbol juice
• Bread with homemade marmalade
Lunch (at school)
• Roll from the panadería
Lunch (at home)
• Queso fresco (kind of cheese)
• Fresh juice
• Protein: lentils or beans
• Something deep fried, usually a veggie or a green plantain
• More rice
• Fresh juice
If you read these lists closely (I don’t blame you if you didn’t), you will see that I am eating a lot of rice. Don’t get me wrong, I love rice just as much as most people. However, I have learned this semester that too much of a good thing exists. While my taste for rice seems to be decreasing (rapidly), the piles of rice on my plate seem to be growing exponentially.
Rice has become a common topic of conversation with my friends. In order to vent some shared frustrations about the excessive amounts of rice we’ve been consuming, my Spanish classmates and I made an ironic skit about rice for our final exam. In our skit, we were part of a cooking show. Each of us presented a “special ingredient” and shared a story or a description without saying the name of the ingredient. In the end, we revealed that we were all talking about RICE. Some of the descriptions and stories about the ingredient were hilarious. One classmate described the rice as a fine wine. I chose to share a story about harvesting rice with my parents when I was younger with friendly dinosaurs in the background.
We finished the skit by chanting ARROZ CON ARROZ CON ARROZ CON ARROZ (rice with rice with rice with rice) and walking around the classroom giving a grain of rice to everybody (hence the title of this post). It was a fun way to blow off some food frustration steam, and now I feel better about the large amounts of rice that I have been consuming.