In Ecuador there are many fruits and vegetables most northerners have never seen before. We are not sure we can do them justice by introducing them to you in our blog but we’ll give it a try.
Most of the following are available at Supermaxi, the Cooperia, the mercados, or from the wheelbarrow merchants that prowl the streets of Cuenca. First of all, fruits and vegetables are probably the least expensive things you can eat. A vegetarian has a real fiscal advantage here. Second, though we realize there are growing patterns, it seems as if strawberries or lettuce or almost any other kind of produce is available all year long. There doesn’t seem to be a season for anything, they are almost always sitting there in the market. It would be hard not to find everything you are used to plus dozens you have not seen before. Supermaxi sells bags of juice made from tomate, Guanabana, coco, maracuya, marianjilla, mango and guyaba. All you need do is add some water, put it in the mixer with a little sugar to take the tartness away and you have a great drink. You will see from the following that having a juicer and blender is essential to take advantage of the usual and the unusual.
All the more conventional stuff is available, Mangos big and small are excellent, watermellon, cantelope, black berries, strawberries, grapes (though most have seeds), lettuce, carrots (unusually fat and short), cucumbers, potatoes, spinach, and on and on. Avacados are everywhere and excellent when they get very ripe so they are completely soft. There must be a half dozen varieties of oranges which we buy by the dozen a few times a week and squeeze every morning for fresh orange juice.
But, it is the unusual that keeps you staring and wondering what to do with such an exotic creature.
One of the most popular is the tomate, a tomato like fruit that, when juiced, makes a wonderful drink.
Then, of course, you can buy bagged fruit pulp and make your own special juice.
You could probably exist on bananas in Cuenca. They are dirt cheap and delicious. Many varieties.
Just a few unusual fruits at Supermaxi. Mango, Durazano, Chirimoya, Taxo, and Pepino Dulce.
This is at the Cooperia, a tray full of Tuna and Dulce.
Two kinds of Papaya at the Cooperia. There are at least five rows of shelves filled with every fruit and vegetable grown in Ecuador.
A tray full of mangos, so sweet they are almost sinful.
We hope that this little photographic tour of the exotic fruits of Ecuador has whet your appetite. We are slowly learning how each one of them are best prepared but it is confusing when you stare at something totally foreign and try to decipher how to get at its core. There have been a lot of trial and errors as we struggled with pulp difficult to separate from pits and super tartness here and there, but each time we try something new, we find out a little more. Our diet has changed enormously and we find ourselves eating fruit instead of sweets. Can't be all bad.