Food you can find while exploring a new place is not mere sustenance for the journey, but a large part of the cultural experience. These street foods provide a taste of life in Ecuador.
Note: take caution when trying all street foods to ensure they were made in a clean environment.
What food is sweet, topped with raisins and wrapped in a leaf? Any Ecuadorian will know: a quimbolito. While it looks quite unfamiliar, a quimbolito has a flavor redolent of a sweet cornbread, only less dry as the Achira leaf holds the moisture in. The cousin of quimbolitos, humitas, are a savory bread similarly made from corn (choclo) and wrapped in the corn leaves. While enjoying these treats, however, make sure not to eat the leaf.
This plantain based ball of fried delight is an Ecuadorian treat not to be missed. Usually served with cheese or meat inside, the mashed plantain mixture makes a savory dumpling that is fried to perfection. While Bolónes go well with the spicy ají salsa, they can also stand alone. Although large enough to serve as breakfast by itself, it often goes well with other breakfast foods.
Made with starch from the cassava plant, cheese, eggs and salt, pan de yuca comes in chewy rolls that are almost bite-sized. Cassava, from which comes tapioca, is native to South America and a popular carbohydrate source. A great afternoon snack, the doughy bits of pan de yuca go surprisingly well with fruity yogurt and are often sold together. Because the taste is rather unlike a typical bread roll or even biscuit, tasters should remain open-minded to the unfamiliar flavor.
Go to Ecuador and you will see the influence maracuya, or passion fruit, everywhere: maracuya yogurt, maracuya cheesecake, even maracuya beer. While the fruit itself can be a bit tart and the actually quite odd-looking, its flavor in a smoothie is irresistible. A great mix of tangy and sweet this drink is also very refreshing, which is welcome after hours under the hot sun.
While plantain serves as the foundation for a variety of Ecuadorian foods, both sweet and savory, the simple genius of a patacone should never be underestimated. It’s ingredients are simple: plantain, oil, and a bit of salt. It is made by cutting the plantains into small slices, frying them, smashing them a bit flatter and then frying them again. Often served with ají sauce or the popular ketchup and mayo combination, patacones will also serve as a great side to any Ecuadorian entrée.