Food and Cooking in Cuenca, Ecuador – Part 4

by | Feb 17, 2022 | Ecuador | 1 comment

This last blog in the food and cooking series will address some of the other foods that play a big part in the Ecuadorian diet and their availability.

Surprisingly, Ecuadorian food is rather mild, especially compared to the much more spicy dishes of Mexico and Central America.

1. Meat and Fish– The selection of meats available primarily consists of some cuts of beef, pork, and ample chicken. The beef in Ecuador is grass-fed and not aged, therefore it tends to be on the tough side. The cuts are also very different from those in the States. Pork and chicken are used a lot in Ecuadorian cooking and are readily available and of good quality. Fish and seafood are more easily found in the coastal areas and are reasonably priced.

2. Beans and Legumes– These make up a large part of the Ecuadorian diet. There is a wide variety of different types such as lentils, pinto beans, black beans, and peas as well as others. Again, we are at altitude, so cooking them takes much longer. Crockpots, pressure cookers, and instant pots are often used for preparation and there is a good selection at department stores here at a fairly reasonable price.

3. Spices and Herbs

Marvelous markets
Marvelous markets

This subject is a bit difficult to address since there are so many. There is a wonderful selection of spices and herbs available at the markets and mercados. However, we all have our favorites and many of the blends or specialized spices we are used to finding are not available.

So… let’s start with some basics. Salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, dill, allspice, cinnamon, vanilla, cilantro, parsley are all readily available. Nutmeg, Italian seasonings, red chili powder, and mace are difficult or impossible to find. If you are a fan of Indian or Chinese cuisine you may have a harder time completing your recipes, although they do have curry and soy sauce.

There are some Mexican-style salsas here but little in the way of hotter spices. A suggestion would be to bring a supply of your most favorite spice blends with you and ask your new friends to bring you what you need when they visit the U.S. after being here a while.

I ordered two big bottles of my favorites –McCormick Grill Master Montreal Steak and Chicken blends on Amazon recently when a friend was visiting in the States and she brought them down to me.

4. Cookware.

You might want to BYOC (bring your own cookware)
You might want to BYOC (bring your own cookware)

Finding better grade cookware is difficult in Ecuador and the prices are very high. If you are planning to ship many of your household goods in a container to Ecuador I would recommend bringing your favorite pots and pans.

I traveled light with three suitcases and still found room for two of my Analon pots and I use them every day. Household appliances such as crock pots, blenders, and mixers can be found at the local department stores. The selection is not as good and they are more expensive than in the States.

Utensils are plentiful

Cooking utensils are plentiful, however, I brought my tried-and-true garlic press, a hand can opener, and a couple of knives I can’t live without. Cutlery is also more limited in quality and selection.

I hope the information in these food blogs is helpful for you in planning your move to Ecuador. It is just another reminder of how different things can be when you move abroad. Many of my expat friends complain from time to time about some of the inconveniences they have to endure here and then follow quickly by saying they are eating healthier food and feeling better than they have in years. Not much of a trade-off in my book. Let us know what you are thinking.

Bienvenidos and Buen Provecho!

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