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Sunday, August 23, 2009

La Comida De Otavalo

Otavalo was our first destination in Ecuador after crossing the border with Colombia. The largely indigenous Andean village sits 2 hours north of Quito, the capital.

We were rather surprised to find little in terms of traditional Ecuadorian cuisine in Otavalo. I guess the indigenous folk live on the outskirts of town and have mainly home-cooked meals. Eating options in town were mostly fast food! Not your usual hamburger chains, but pizza, fried chicken, fries and burgers nevertheless. Oh, and chifas - aka Chinese restaurants. Lots of them! One of the chifa owners said that there were at least 10 outlets in town alone.

Although transactions are in US dollars, food in Otavalo was relatively cheap. It was also a welcomed change after 5 weeks of Colombian almuerzas (set lunches), instant noodles and instant pasta. So we pigged out a bit! But just a bit...

Here are some pictures of our favourite food in Otavalo:

Manis Dulces (sweet peanuts)

This is my all-time favourite snack in Latin America so far. The peanuts in Otavalo are much bigger and of better quality than the ones in Colombia. And they are sold in much bigger packets too!

Mmmmm, the aroma of freshly cooked peanuts swimming around in a sugary paste.

The light brown ones are corn nibblets cooked in sugar. US$1 for a large pack! The smallest costs only US$0.25.... but who buys the small ones anyway?!

Shenadoah's Pie Shop

The deep-dish pies sold at this small cafe are SO good. SO SO good. The best I've ever eaten, and all for US$1.30 per slice. Per HUGE slice. All freshly baked throughout the day. We went back 3 times - it could have been more, if I hadn't started feeling fat halfway through the week.

A different array of pies greets you at the counter everyday. Chocolate, lemon, banana, strawberry, blackberry, pineapple, apple...

I liked the strawberry pie best. The fruit was sweet (but not fake sugary jammy sweet) and so moist!

The fluffy, wobbly lemon meringue pie. The super sweet meringue complements the tangy lemon custard very well.

Chinese Food

Chifas are really popular in Ecuador. We figured that the term 'chifa' must have been derived from 'chi fan' in Chinese, meaning to have a meal. Chaulafan, fried rice, is the most popular dish on the menu and is served with either chicken, pork, shrimp or all three! As for the name - Chaulafan is pretty similar to 'chau fan' - so yeah, I geddit. But noodles are called tallarin (I don't know how that came about!) and if you want rice and noodles in one dish, you would order a mixto. We spent our evenings alternating between a Guangdong-run restaurant and Shandong-run outlet. And yes, we ordered the famous "Singapore noodles" too!


Wantan soup! Not quite the same as what we get back home, but warms your tummy nonetheless!

Mi Otavalo

This eatery serving traditional Ecuadorian dishes was recommended by Lonely Planet and in our opinion, overpriced (US$5 for a lunch set) and nothing great. The starters were quite interesting though:

Popcorn - I don't know how they cook the corn without the kernels popping and turning fluffy! Corn definitely tastes better fully popped.

The fancy presentation for the appetizer (guacamole, a nacho, a sausage and some onion salsa) impressed us a bit. Then it went blah from there.


Best ice-cream I've eaten in a long long time ever since leaving the Land of Ben & Jerry's. Home-made gelato in various flavours like blackforest, rum & raisin, mint chocolate, strawberry, coconut, blackberry, bubblegum, pineapple, mango... oooh! So many! A single scoop cost only US$0.70 and a double on a cone, US$1. Now, obviously we would go for the double scoop... maybe the full works for US$2.80 per sundae?

Treating ourselves to a whole lotta ice-cream

His all white Alaska thingamajig

The Really Cheap Stuff

It's not really yummy, not really filling and not really satisfying. But this giant pizza slice is served fresh, hot, gooey and stringy and gives your tummy something to work on until it's time for pie or ice-cream. So big that it can't fit within the plate, this pizza slice goes for US$1, with a glass of Coke or Sprite thrown in.

Open wide and say aaaaaaaahhhh.....

And these, dear folks, are what kept your 2 travelbug friends very happy throughout our 7 days in Otavalo.

Now go treat yourself to that long-awaited ice-cream sundae. You know you want it!


Stephanie said...

OMG!! im "drooling" care to send some over?lol.......

Jo said...

All looks so yummy! You guys are still having heaps of fun! Love your updates and photos - brighten's this dull mama's day. When are you coming back? Christmas? It feels like forever...

Nicc said...

Fwahh the pie looks DELISH! *salivate!

Tracy Su said...

YUMMM! I love lemon meringue pie! All this does look damn good, except, how can you have a dish with only one nacho? Now that seems a bit wrong :(

Yi Lin said...

The pies at Shenadoah are the real deal. We saw a copycat outlet called American Pie with slices going for US$1 (cheaper) but never saw anyone buying from them. Yeah, I had better not read my own blog once I'm back in SG - it will incite cravings for unobtainable food.

Trace - yeah, that's why we don't like fancy schmancy food. Looks nice but totally not satisfying!

Jo - Yes, S.America is really fun. Just have to avoid being the victim of crime in the big cities (which we are intentionally skipping where we can after the Bogota mugging incident.) Ecuador has been especially easy to travel in so far. We'll be back in SG in early Mar if the budget stretches till then. Few big ticket items we'll have to forgo on this trip though - Galapagos Islands and Easter Island :( Will just have to wait till we're richer then come back.

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