Sunday, 14 February 2010

South America

It's been a while since I travelled South America, but I still clearly remember some of the fantastic foods I tried there.

My first stop was Ecuador, where Cuy (Guinea Pig) is a delicacy. Me being me, I tried it on my first day in a frankly dingy-looking restaurant in central Quito. As a starter, I had Caldo de Pata, which I knew from my very limited Spanish was some kind of soup. It turned out to be a creamy broth containing boiled cow hooves, lots of soft herbs and quinoa; it was surprisingly delicious, and extremely filling. Apparently, Ecuadorian men believe it to increase virility, I can't say I noticed any difference though!

Caldo de Pata
Image courtesy of Street Gourmet LA

My main course, the guinea pig, was much more disappointing. It had been breaded and deep fried, and it was barely distinguishable from a KFC. In taste, it was fairly close to rabbit, only much fattier. I can't go into much more detail because there really isn't anything else to say. It wasn't offensive, but it was a long way from being good. Fortunately, I blamed the method of cooking and the quality of restaurant, and tried guinea pig a few times across Ecuador, and it did improve elsewhere.

A few days later, still in Quito, I tried another Ecuadorean speciality, Ceviche. I love ceviche, I'd had it a couple of times in England, and this first time trying it in it's native country I opted for the Ceviche de Concha (black clams). I wasn't really a fan of the clams, however, as they were very inky, but the ceviche I had elsewhere in Ecuador and Peru was always fantastic (only I didn't order the Concha again!).

Prawn Ceviche
Image courtesy of Picasa Web

Ecuadorean ceviche is different from the (slightly inferior) Peruvian edition in that it is more like a soup. In both cases, the fish is served in lime juice with heaps of chilli, shallot and chopped coriander, but in Ecuador it is traditiionally in a thin gazpacho-type tomato broth, which adds that extra bit of colour and flavour to the dish.

After my ceviche, I had the most tender beef tongue you can possibly imagine; it was divine, seared and served slightly pink with a simple parsley cream sauce and rice.

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