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Full belly, joyuous heart (Barriga llena, corazón contento)

 

It is often said that eating is one of the greatest pleasures bestowed humankind. But in an industrialized world, it is hard to find authentic flavors and fresh sensations. This is not the case in Ecuador; a country with a gastronomical heritage so rich and diverse that you will feel like you cannot get enough. The legacy left by the hybrid Mesoamerican culture, with Spanish and native roots, results in a global culinary tradition, of world-class recognition. Thus, the cuisine in our country is truly exceptional.

Our ancestors chose the areas surrounding the Andes as their home precisely because they found an enormously generous mother nature, bequeathing for their subsistence forests with abundant tropical fruits, wide plains for growing grains, and benign temperate valleys for strong agricultural output and abundant hunting. In its 251,000 km2, Ecuador´s soil and the various temperatures that nurture it make it possible to cultivate a surprising array of agricultural products ranging from all kinds of vegetables and fruits, to local cereals and grains. It also allows for the raising of cattle, legacy of the Spaniards, who introduced livestock as an important source of food production.

The Ecuadorian Highlands came to offer typical dishes made up of potatoes, maize, cassava, and beans accompanied by beef, pork, chicken and sheep, and in the more traditional towns, guinea pigs. The food on the Coast, meanwhile, became a seafood rainbow with plates comprised of a variety of fresh fish, shrimp, shellfish, lobster, octopus, oysters, and crab, along with rice, beans, and plantain creations.

The area surrounding Jama is known for incorporating traditional products of the region into the main dishes, especially coconuts, sweet potatoes, cassava, palm, poultry, cocoa, peanuts, and variety of tropical fruits such as oranges, bananas, tangerines, pineapples, and papayas. The rich and hearty casserole of fish and seafood, drenched in spicy sauce, is one of the most coveted dishes. Coconut fish stew is a must-try, and the traditional pasta with a peanut-and-flour sauce, (the famous “brown salt” of Manabi), is irresistible. The famous ceviche and the plantain varieties are hard to miss, as well as the traditional bollos, stuffed with fish, cassava, and many other ingredients. For dessert, the peanut nougat with honey or corn, and the delicious candies of Rocafuerte, Manabí, are treats for the palate. Fresh fruit is available yearlong, constituting the perfect dessert dish.

You are what you eat, they say. In Ecuador, this means being blessed with an unlimited supply of all kinds of food imaginable. In JAMA CAMPAY; it is the realization of a fantasy, the joy of filling your body and soul with nature´s precious (and often disdained) gift: food.