One of the hardest challenges I faced on coming to Ecuador was dealing with the change in food. Not only the viruses and bacteria and all that (I did get sick from an unboiled juice, if you remember), but from everything about the food.

I'll start with a statement on when food is eaten. Basically, they don't have dinner here. In the morning, you eat a small bit, maybe a bowl of cereal, some bread. After I get home from school, around 1:30, 2:00, we eat lunch, which is the biggest meal of the day. And in the afternoon? It really depends on the family. Because my host mother works in a pizzería, she's out of the house all evening, from 3:30 to 10:00. So, I don't usually eat dinner. If I need a snack, I'll grab a piece of bread, or maybe a bag of chips from the nearest convenience store (it's no 7-11, but it'll do). If I'm really starving, and I'm usually not, I'll go up two blocks to the nearest Chinese place and order a "mixto especial," which I'll get to in a minute. Anita (my host mother) has been getting on my case lately that I don't eat enough, so the housekeeper, Rosita, usually offers me rice or a hard-boiled egg or something. I have lost about ten pounds since I got here, but I'm at a healthy, stable weight now, so that's good. My Body Mass Index is in the normal range, at least. But that's not where I'm going with this. What I wanted to point out is that in Ecuador, Lunch is the most important meal of the day, not Dinner, like in the United States. People here have a very hard time understanding that when I tell them. People don't get that school goes from 7:30 to 3, or thereabouts, so kids don't get home in time for lunch, and parents are almost always working at that time, so no lunch there either. Here, family is very, very important, and eating lunch with the family is the most common expression of that fact. This is actually where most of the other AFS kids are having problems with their families. They come home and then go right out with their friends, not eating with the family. One mother said that she felt like the kid was just using her house as a hotel. The issue is that that's not being related to the students, and so they're not modifying their behavior at all. But it's not my place to say anything, so I don't. I just hope the other American kid doesn't get sent home. I like having someone else here who understands how important it is to go to KFC every once in a while.

The content of each course is different as well. Breakfast, for me, is always one of two things: juice, hot chocolate, and bread, or juice and cereal. Sometimes Anita'll mix things up with chopped fruit, but not usually. Lunch always consists of two things, if Rosita cooks, and she usually does. The first course, "sopa," is a soup of some kind, which can be chicken soup, noodle soup (my favorite), soup with potatoes, soup with yuca (my least favorite. I mean, it's Yuck-a soup.), cream of peas, cream of carrot, rice, baby rice, or some combination thereof. Noodle soups are few and far between, but that only makes them all the better when I get one. It's like winning on a scratch-off lotto ticket, not very often, not very much, but it always gives you a nice feeling inside. The second course is "seca," or the dry plate. This usually consists of three things: rice, a vegatable, and meat. The rice is white, and plain, and it never changes. The vegatable is usually some variation of potatoes, though once in a while I get peas (which I hate), carrots (which I also hate), corn (which I like), chocla (which I love), and on very rare occasions, french fries. Choclas are what I think of as bucktooth corn. It's a type of corn that's incredibly messed up, not neat and ordered like normal corn, but sort of scattered all over the cob. It's very tasty. The meat is usually chicken, though sometime's is porkchops or beef. Ever since I stopped eating when I heard it was cow liver, Anita's been trying to slip stuff by me, getting me to eat it by not saying what it is. She's been successful too. I ate cow tongue, which she insists is a delicacy, and cow liver. The second time around on the cow liver, I thought it just tasted bad because it was fried. Let me get this straight though: I always eat what's in front of me, except I just couldn't do it that one time with the cow liver. I ate freaking cow stomach soup, knowing full well what it was, because I didn't want to offend my host (I was over at a friend's house). I am good at this. Sometimes, when I win the dry-plate lotto, I'll get pasta, which is served with a tomato sauce and no rice or veggies. Anita likes having pasta with wine, so she'll usually get a red wine to go with it. The best lunch I've had here though, was Noodle soup and a dry-plate with rice, pork-chop, and French Fries. Awesome socks.

Going out to eat is a mixed bag. Occasionally, you get guinea pig.

Yes, the animal that we keep as pets. Or rabbit. I haven't had rabbit yet, but I expect that's coming. There are your normal restaurants, like chicken, and of course my mom owns a pizzería, but then there's Chinese food. Oh. Mah. Gourd. You'd think that Chinese food would be the same wherever you go, but it's not. Here, it is the best thing I have ever eaten. Okay, not really, but it's really really good. I order a "mixto especial," which is half taularin and half chaulafan. Taularin is noodles and sauce with thirty kinds of meat and shrimp, and onions and peppers with this awesome sauce on it. Chaulafan is rice with veggies and shrimp and chicken. It is so amazingly incredibly good. I love it. I could eat Chinese food every day, but I couldn't afford it. Oh, speaking of affordability: full-sized meal, about one pound of this mixto especial stuff, $3.10. Bottle of Coca-Cola? $0.50. Yeah. It's that good. Almost more than I can eat, $3.60. Awesome. Socks.

So, thank you to Tom and the anonymous person for posting. I'm getting more traffic now that I'm hyperlinking to my blog off the MIT admissions page. I looked up LaTeX, but I couldn't actually find the program, so, I'm sticking with MathType for now. Tom, I'm not getting a big head, I promise. But I am getting big hair! So, peace out for now, everybody.



Tom said...

LaTeX is a textual format you type directly. There is a nice editor for it (with a built-in math editor) called LyX which I used recently (for math) and it is pretty good.

ben said...



guinea pig.



Kristina said...

guinea pig... >.<

Ezra said...

i bet guinea pig could taste good...
with the right spices and seasoning!

John said...

I had guinea pig in Peru, tasty stuff but the skin was too thick and tough. I much prefer alpaca.