Picnics in Ecuador are all about love of food and food of love.
Love of food because all true Ecuadorians love good food.
They all have a little foodie inside of them and can spend hours talking about the right way to prepare a certain type of dish.
Or the differences of using a blender to just frying the refrito and the condiments and adding them to the food.
Or if a certain dish should have pepper, cumin, coriander or some other ingredient or not.
And of course, is the cebiche from Esmeraldas the real one or the one from Manabí.
A deadly discussion, almost as heated as which is the favorite, and best, soccer team in Ecuador.
And food of love because all Ecuadorian are taught when they grow up that food is love.
Mothers show their love through the food they cook to their families.
A real mother is the one that feeds you.
And the more there is food and tastier it is, the more she loves you.
In Ecuador, the way to man’s heart, truly, is through their stomachs.
To woo an Ecuadorian you need a lot of meat and copious quantities of plantain banana, potatoes, rice, manioc and other starches.
You should not forget the salads and fruits either.
For a picnic everyone pinches in.
I cooked the rice and the potatoes and brought sodas.
My friends made an Ecuadorian chicken dish, seco del pollo.
Which means dry chicken and is completely absurd name for the dish.
Since the chicken is very moist and prepared with thin, clear and very tasty broth.
Besides the chicken, we had cooked plantain bananas, avocados, salad, laughter, interesting conversations and lots of friendship.
Sharing food is like sharing love with the people that surround you.
Seco de pollo or chicken stew
Seco de pollo or seco de gallina is an Ecuadorian chicken stew cooked slowly in a sauce of beer, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, herbs and spices.
· 6 lbs of assorted chicken pieces
· 4 tbs oil
· 2 red onions, quartered
· ½ red onion, minced for refrito
· 10 whole garlic gloves plus 4 ground garlic cloves
· 2 tsp ground achiote or annatto
· 4 cups of beer
· 8 tomatoes, quartered
· 3 bell peppers, quartered
· 1 hot pepper (jalapeno or serrano)
· 1 bunch of cilantro, reserve some to add at the end
· 1 bunch of parsley, reserve some to add at the end
· 1 tsp oregano
· 2 tsp cumin
· Salt and pepper to taste
1. Blend the beer, quartered onions, whole garlic cloves, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot pepper, cilantro, parsley, oregano and cumin to obtain a smooth puree.
2. In a large saucepan or soup pot heat the oil over medium heat to prepare a refrito or sofrito, add the minced red onion, minced garlic and achiote, cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add the chicken and brown lightly on each side, add the blended puree mix
4. Cook on low heat until the chicken is very tender and the sauce has thickened. Unless it's a hen, the chicken should be tender in less than 1 hour. However it takes longer for the sauce to thicken, so if the chicken is very tender - meat falling of the bones - and the sauce isn't thick yet, then remove the tender chicken pieces, turn up the heat and cook the sauce until it's nice and thick, about 20-30 minutes.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Add the remaining cilantro and parsley.
Do you think food is love?
Did you have any picnics during these vacations?