28 May 2015

Foods of South America: Ecuador and Colombia

For years, we´ve been known to travel for food and we always try and sample the local produce of the places we travel through (budget allowing, of course!). When we decided to cycle the length of South America, we knew that food was going to play a big role. Back in December 2013, all we were aware of regarding South American food was ceviches (yet not really knowing what they were) and Colombian coffee. Not much else reaches the other side of the pond in Europe...

The trip has definitely been a culinary delight, and below are some examples of things we´ve eaten

Santiago Lara´s ceviche at the Casa de Ciclistas near Quito. Almost upon arrival in Tumbaco, I begged Santiago to teach me how to make ceviche...King prawns, lime juice, red onion, coriander, and tomato is all you need. Popcorn and fried banana are also added in Ecuador

Granadilla - a tart and sweet fruit

In Cayambe we tried this traditional biscuit - flour and lard I believe were the main ingredients

Most of you will know we are suckers for all types of food markets. Luckily they do abound in South America, and are always fascinating in Ecuador - here the one in Loja, with all sorts of grain, species and other basic stuff sold al peso

After learning from Santiago, I gave this ceviche a go...and wasn´t too bad!

After a while in Ecuador (and Colombia) we made a fusion breakfast: arepas, granola, fresh fruits, and poached egg (UK)

Breakfast in Loja, Ecuador. We had deep fried empanadas and morocho (a milky sweet drink, with clove and rice, served warm)
In riverside areas, like this one in Zumba, Ecuador, river fish are abundant. Here a very delicious fish soup (yet not particularly great looking!)

In South América they have and love their sweet drinks. This particular one was incredibly gross, tasted of cough medicine and contained enough sugar to saturate the solution!

Depending of the areas (mostly the altitude) you travel through, different fruits are sold on the road side, directly from the fincas they grow in. 

A very traditional Colombian breakfast: huevos perico (scrambled eggs with onion and tomato, rice, arepa and tamal - an steamed corn dumpling with different fillings)

In the town of Andalucía, Colombia, we found fresch cheese and sweet balls made of pear and sugar. Delicious when eaten together.

At low altitudes, pineapples abount in Colombia

As does sugar cane

Even the larger supermarkets will have a good selection: lulo (frutilla en Ecuador) on the left, guayaba (famous for the bocadillo de guayaba - the fuel of Colombian cyclists) and other, more usual fruits behind

What we called merienda in Spain...in Colombia usually contains a deep fried empanada with a tasty fruity juice

The infamous arepas come in hundreds of different colors, flavours and fillings and are found all over Colombia

Dulce de leche is such an stapled South American food. But in the town of Andalucía, they added fresh cheese to it! Not great looking but incredibly tasty!

Coffee beans come without explanation in Colombia

In Spain we eat a pincho de tortilla when out on a ride. In Colombia hot agua panela is served with fresh cheese (which is dipped in and melted in the hot drink) with a freshly baked arepa

Street vendors have all sort of yummy fried or grilled foods in Colombia: empanadas, potato balls, plantain, arepas...

Strawberries grow in cold areas of Colombia and Ecuador. Here somewhere near Bogotá, at 3000 m

Fruit salads are another staple of Colombian foods, and it comes with a liquidy cheese sauce and all sorts of fresh fruits

Those little green balls are amongst the weirdest fruits we´ve ever tried: the mamoncillo has a hard shell that you crack open to then suck a sugary outer gelatine and spit out the seed.

Lucy loved those dough balls. Buñuelos come in all sizes and prices.

We did not know it at the time, but Tinjacá, near Villa de Leyva, is famous Colombia-wide for its arepas: huge sizes, for 1000 pesos, and a choice of wheat or corn, filled with melted cheese...

Avocados, mangos, and papaya for starter in your regular almuerzo in Villa de Leyva....

Moving onto cheeses...Colombia and Ecuador lack what we know as matured cheeses in the US and Europe. But in Bogotá, we learnt that queso Paipa, produced in Paipa (Boyacá) was as good as close as you can get to a matured cheese.  

A whole trout, very popular in riverside areas of Colombia, cooked in our very own stove

What can we say about chicken...yet sometimes, if cooked properly, can be extremely nice!

But when going into the very high mountains of Colombia, for a few days all we could take with us was this...Thankfully we took some nice Colombian coffee - the black bag in the middle!

Bucaramanga provided a great social and culinary experience. Diego and Carmen of Ciclaramanga treated us to an amazing vegetarian almuerzo 

Colombian bread isn´t matched to our taste. It usually comes overloaded with butter and sugar. But Diego of Ciclaramanga is baking his very own breads, well worth a try!

Another Colombian almuerzo, served with our favourite non-alcoholic soda of the trip: Pony malta beats all the other sodas, especially when served ice-cold!

And the juices...Colombia has a big reputation for its juices en agua or en leche. And sometimes you get a whole 1.5 l jar to yourself!

Near the Mocoa area they grow amazing raspberries

In the Colombian Oriente, Alberto tried a tasty fish soup that contain something resembling a piranha

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