Not everyone likes to eat anything other than what they're used to. I'm about the same.
I had been eating pretty much the same thing and almost every day.
But with this trip to Ecuador, I can't believe the things I've eaten in less than 3 weeks of going from town to town.
The food in Ecuador is fresh. I mean "today" fresh. They really don't have the ability to run huge refrigerators with freezers in their kitchens along with another Monster Freezer in the garage. In fact, most of the restaurants I've gone to, don't have a refrigerator except to hold juices of sodas.
My first days in Guayaquil, I pretty much stayed with what I knew. I had a daily diet of Chicken (Pollo), Salad (ensalada) and Rice (arroz). I found a Chinese (Chino) food place and that was about it.
When I got to Ballenita there was an immediate and quite radical change to my diet.
The breakfast consisted of a Bolon and some fruit. Along with coffee which was great.
The Bolon is a mix of god knows what. I mean, it could have been anything because I didn't ask for the first few days. When I finally did, I understood why the Ecuadorian person is so fit and skinny. It's pretty much a mixed up fried ball or baked ball (bolon) of Plantain and Cheese. Sometimes they throw a bit of potato (papas) or Yucca (Yucca) into it. Just to be different
When walking around Ballenita, which was a 3 Kilometer walk from the hotel Farrallon Dillon, on a dirt road with lots of natural "pot holes" to navigate through or past, I passed many open air "cafes' and "restaurants".
I'm a white table cloth kind of guy. So I breezed past these places and didn't even really look too much at the menus because they were all virtually the same:
Seafood Soup or Sopa Marinara or Embollado or San Cocho, etc. But one item appears on every menu in Ballanita and that's Ceviche. Ceviche's of every kind: Shrimp (Camarones) or Mixto (a mix of unidentifiable by amazing...whatever it is), Squid and whatever they've caught that day.
So, based upon the advice of my friend Oscar Picon in Miami and a born Colombian, I was convinced to give these "food service institutions" the benefit of the doubt. And man am I ever happy I did. I have since not gone to one "real restaurant" since I've been here. Not one.
I make it a point to walk past the normal looking places and going to the smaller ones. The ones that have a younger daughter in the front with a mom (mama) and Grandma (Abuella) in the back slaving away on the stove. There's always a bunch of pots that are on the grill out in the open for you to see along with the same menu they've had since Grandma started working in the same place 60 or 70 years ago.
In the front of the restaurant is either a white board of todays and yesterday's and the day before that....menu. And there are no prices except $2.50 I'm not kidding. Whatever they're cooking, whether it's soup or a plata (plate) of frijoles, arroz and pollo or cerda or chicharon, it's $2.50. I feel like a terrible person taking advantage of these people.
Sometimes, they include a small bowl of soup or a salad. Or juice (jugo). It's an incredible meal and I'm always totally full afterwards.
I hate fish. I always have. But these fish soups are just ridiculously good. And of course, they cost......