Achojcha, Almuerzo, biche, Bolones, Chifles, Culinary Specialties of Manabi Ecuador, encebollado, Food of Manabi, Jake's Sunday Post Delicious, Lobster, popcorn soup, pureed carrot soup, quinoa, quinoa crisps, Quinouli, Shrimp Harvest, torta de pescado, Viche
MANABI, ECUADOR – While recently fighting a three-week perpetual cough, I lost my normally-healthy appetite. The past few days have found my strength returning, and my taste buds are suddenly screaming for attention! Jake’s Sunday Post has given me a great opportunity to tease my appetite back to normal!
The province of Manabi Ecuador is known for its culinary specialties. Viche, sometimes spelled, Biche, soothes the palate with a pureed peanut based fish and lemon juice stock. Packed with fresh in-season vegetables, shrimp and/or fish, viche also comes with green-plantain ”balls” that patiently wait to be discovered at the bottom of the bowl! The customary garnish of cilantro adds color and flavor! Almost always, fresh lemon juice and aji (hot sauce) are served on the side.
Many people associate breakfast and coffee in Manabi with a specialty called, “Bolones.” Bolones are the hush puppies of green plantains! Two options are usually offered, the soft bolon and the crispy fried ones. My favorites are fried, just like a Southern-fried hush puppy! Often stuffed with fresh queso blanco, they are traditionally served with coffee.
Not quite as thick as viche, but every bit as delicious is encebollado. Lots of finely-sliced onions and a generous dollop of fresh tuna makes this an excellent choice for a hearty brunch! On weekends, sidewalk restaurants spring up in random locations, and one learns by word of mouth where to find the most-popular stations! Reported to cure the morning-after hangover, encebollado is often served with a cold cervesa as well!
I arrived in town too late this morning to feast on encebollado. One can usually find an tasty ‘Blue-Plate Special” alternative at any of the local restaurants. With a first course of soup, main course and a small serving of juice, the lunch almuerzos usually cost between two and three dollars.
Many times popcorn is served on the side when the soup course arrives. Watching my fellow-Ecuadorians dump their popcorn into the soup, I quickly adapted to their example. One day while dining with my attorney, I dumped the popcorn then paused, adjusted my relaxed table manners, and asked, “Is what I just did considered proper table etiquette?” He smiled and said that normally one would not do that, but it’s a widely-accepted custom. Dubbed ‘Popcorn Soup” by many extranjeros, it’s only the garnish that gives it the nickname.
When one decides to bust the budget and splurge, oh my, the options are amazing! My friends Laura and Barb all but overdosed on shrimp and lobster when they visited in May and June of this year!
How does one spell, “hungry?’
Recently friends have shared a baked dish called ‘Torta de Pescado.” I confess that I was not impressed with its name or how it looked when it entered the oven. Being the compliant Southern transplant, I politely sampled the finished product. Oh my goodness, Torta de Pescado, a green-plantain casserole of a dish, is an amazing culinary discovery! I continue to be amazed at the versatility of green plantains!
The above information comes from the grueling demands of field research! I welcome any comments, corrections or trivia that clarifies details about Manabi cuisine! For more worldwide DELICIOUS images, visit Jake’s Printers Sunday Post.
Working on this post has left me HUNGRY for delicious food! Where shall I start? Which Manabi specialty looks most tempting to you?