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Published: February 29th 2020
First things first, the food.
I tend to remember people and places by the nosh I consumed at the time, so here’s some of my Ecuadorian experiences;
We like to venture into the gastronomic unknown. Sometimes one gets a semblance of what a menu item contains or how it might taste. In the case of Humida there were many unknowns on both fronts so I gave it a go, mistakenly as it turned out. Humida is like the steamed jam rolypoly you might remember from school, but without the jam. It has the consistency of masonry filler and in my opinion should only be used for this.
Almueza is a ubiquitous lunchtime bargain treat here. Locals tend to eat out at lunchtime rather than evening and almuerza is the lunch menu of the day. For the princely sum of £2 a head you get soup, main and pud, plus a glass of fresh fruit smoothie. Spuds are seriously popular here and come in all shapes and sizes. The soups always have spuds thrown in on a background of rather grey and interminably boiled broth which is usually surprisingly tasty. It is cooked with care and attention, as illustrated
by the cook this lunchtime who repeatedly checked the flavour with her stirring spoon. You get a generous measure of this warming fare, then some meat with veg and some great fresh fruit. There are no growing seasons here; everything grows all year round, so fresh ripe tasty fruit and veg is freely found and fun to admire in the markets.
I’m going a bit off piste at this juncture. We love gardening, especially growing and eating our own veg. The volcanic soil here is like Royal Jelly to plants, full of minerals and a lovely fine tilth. Veg grows abundantly. Maize is everywhere, sometimes planted on slopes steeper than 45 degrees. It’s usually co-planted with broad or French beans, which are harvested before the maize is ready.
Now, about my kamikaze wife. We went to a brilliant waterfall near Banos; Devils cauldron. A beautiful walk led down into the damp freshness below the cataract. The plants were falling over each other to get some more light….
Anyway, so we followed the concrete path that wove up the cliff by the falls. A rail ran along the edge, although not quite matching the dizzy heights of English
health and safety regulations. One particularly tight section necessitated crouching to 80cm (having removed the day bag).
The view from the top was great and we stood beneath the falls with great exhilaration. On the way down we were rather bedraggled and our vision was compromised by steamed up wet glasses. Jan forged ahead (it was down hill). I came round a corner into the tricky section, when the path looked suddenly unfamiliar. I shared this thought with my beloved who’d had a similar thought, but it hadn’t triggered any thoughts of self preservation surprisingly. Then I saw a man further down gesticulating wildly to go back. We had managed to bypass the safety rail and were about 5 feet from a 100 foot cliff. Fortunately the footing was good and we had room to turn round and return to the safety of the path. Looking back from further down it was easy to understand the gesticulators concerns.
Whew! I nearly had to find someone else to make my sourdough!
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