Hola, I've been back for only a week and I have a cold or flu, thus explaining my neglect to the site. So to make up for my silence I will post some pictures of my ten-day jaunt to Ecuador's Ruta del Sol, specifically the fishing village of Puerto Lopez.
My wife had traveled to Puerto Lopez last year while visiting her brothers. They wanted to show me the possibilities for an investment in this sleepy fishing village.
Before heading for the coast we spent a couple days relaxing by the pool, searching for cigars, as well as for a driver to head up north.
Okay, let's get to the real story here; food! We'll start with a ceviçhe my brother in-law claimed to be the best in the city. I had already had some fine examples at our hotel, including one mixto that featured fresh oysters. Delicious. Imagine a breakfast ceviçhe, or a soup of albacore with yucca. Anyway, I followed by in-laws to "D'Marcelo Ceviçhe," an open and bustling restaurant with a menu offering various ceviçhe plates, as well as arroz and fish cooked to however you liked. I went for a shrimp ceviçhe. Usually I would go for something more adventurous, but my wife was concerned about stomach ailments, insisting that I go for the least dangerous specimen.
The style of the shrimp cerviche was different from that I knew. It's in the style of Manbi, from the Pacific coast where we would be visiting. It was warm and clear, the shrimp's only other partners pickled red onions and tomatoes. My brother in-law layered in a squirt of tomato ketchup, mustard, aji, (chili) and some oil. Crisco vegetable oil! Hmmm. Truth is that I followed his lead, even thought it struck me as nearly sinful to garnish such a national treasure with foreign condiments.
To my surprise, my brother-in-law is as smart as his sister (my wife) is beautiful. (Sweetheart, I'm mentioning you.). Anyway, it was good. With some tostadas, plantain chips, and cangil,(popped corn) it was a new and interesting rendition
Mangoes de Chupar
Being the season for mangoes, Chella was yearning for "mangoes de chupar," which translates as "sucking mangoes." My wife and brother in-law decided on a culinary field trip seeking out the best. We rented a car and headed out to a town called Salitre, which was the heart of the growing area. Once you find the mangoes, the trick to eat these softball size fruits is to squeeze it, releasing fibrous juices. Then you bite off the end and indulge until sucked dry. Be forewarned of sticky juices escaping from your fingers, or the other end and landing on your clothes like orange guano. We stopped by the road where my brother in-law managed to buy 200 hundred of these juicy fruit for only fifteen dollars.
El canton Salitre
There is always interesting food finds here, stuff you never see in markets in New York City. Live turkeys, chickens, and all kinds of seafood. The various stalls on the side of the road offered typical and not so common foods, such as purple sweet potatoes, aka camote or Okinawan sweet potatoes.We had a taste of these starchy purple fruit off the grill, served with a stewed duck leg and a side of rice. Beyond the delicious food, Salitre is a just another dusty town with speed bumps and lots of food stalls selling everything from mangoes to bollo's de pescado.
After driving for awhile, we turned off the main road onto a dirt road to what looked like a river to me, but a sign described as a "playa." The thatched kiosks were full of vacationers. On the river in canoes were people selling fish, mangoes and various produce. On shore we met local fishermen who were offering fish, and freshwater prawns, along with crayfish. What I would of done for a stove and some utensils?
The market was bustling with all sorts of local grown fruits as well as meats and seafood. As was the beach, where they brought the market to the people. Strange and unfamiliar, still, it sure can taste good though when it's fresh and local.