Culinary Quito

National Geographic is coming in hot with a list of seven things to know about the cuisine of Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. My dad was born in Ecuador and I have a lot of family there still today, so I was thrilled to read this but it made me hungry.

Here’s their breakdown:

  1. Drink fresh juices or batidos, more like a shake
  2. Visit an open market for roasted pork or fritada, fried pork – In my house, fritada is like edible gold. There are NEVER leftovers and I’ve learned that the hard way. You snooze, you really lose. Once, my grandmother made fritada and I wasn’t home to eat it right away. I came home to my mom whispering “I hid some in the fridge for you…” She really loves me.
  3. Try the humitas, Quito’s most common tamale
  4. Surprise your palette with bright and tangy Ecuadorian ceviche
  5. Treat yourself to dulce de higos (figs) at Centro Historico
  6. Do as the Quitenians do and eat soup for lunch
  7. Expand your horizons with cuy! That means guinea pig… As a 12 year old on a family member’s farm in Columbe, Ecuador, I played with what I understood to be the farm’s cuddly pets. Understandably, I couldn’t get myself to eat it later. 

There are options for the simple eaters, and absolutely options for the adventurous ones. Tastes like home to me!

Source: NatGeo

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Bombo Bar

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I remember my first Bombolone!

Bar Siena just opened a “bombolone walk-up window” which essentially means a place to get late-night Italian filled doughnuts. No further explanation needed, right? I saw this little piece of beautiful news this morning and immediately flashed back to Florence, Italy, circa 2011. I stuffed my happy face that April with a cream-filled bombolone from a gorgeous pasticceria on our way back from Piazzale Michelangelo (see below). I remember two things about that night: the beautiful view from the piazza and the pillowy perfection of the doughnut. I’ll be paying that walk-up window a visit in the near future!

Bombo happiness, Florence 2011

Source: Zagat, my own

Buon Appetito

One of my favorite things to learn about is the differences in cultures around the world. Is it rude to make the “OK” sign with your hand? Should I kiss this person on the cheek after meeting them? Do I leave a tip? Restaurant etiquette varies in each corner of the planet, and Restaurant Choice came up with this handy and eye-catching infographic to help with the Do’s and Don’ts of dining in some popular countries. I loved it, and I learned a few new things!

Dining Etiquette Around The World – An infographic by the team at Restaurant Choice

Irish Grub!

Source: Julia Dunin

Sure, when you hear “Irish food,” the same feeling might not be evoked as when you may hear “Italian food!” But I’m here to get one thing across – you can get damn good food in Ireland. Over the course of my eight days in the Emerald Isle my foodie tummy was so pleased it hardly knew what to do with itself. My family and I have hardly scratched the surface when it comes to great eats in Ireland, but we did our research and were rewarded lavishly.

In this post I’ve provided a list of the best places we ate during our trip, and where they are!

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Maps for Lunch

Taking a quick break from Ireland-related posts to share these maps I stumbled upon today via Paper Plates, one of my favorite blogs. They are so fun – the maps of various countries and continents are made entirely out of the regional foods associated with the places themselves. I think they’re beautiful! South America, pictured above, is made entirely of citrus and is so vibrant, I love it. Below, India is made from colorful spices and Africa from plantains and bananas. Pretty neat idea. You can find the rest here via Slate.com.

Nosh!

While I was studying abroad in London in 2011, I went to an event organized for alumni from my university that were currently living in the city. It was an odd outing, to say the least. Let’s just say we were told there would be free food…

Besides the misleading information (I can’t even tell you what free food meant to me as a broke student abroad), I did meet the kind wife of an expat who basically described heaven on earth to me. I remember she said, “Listen. I get bored. A lot. You know what I like to do? Walk around Borough Market. It’s a great place to get lunch, grocery shop, or even just go for samples.” My eyes widened.

When I realized she was describing a food market, my vision went a little hazy and I blacked out for a moment while imagining myself running from stall to stall – the happiest I’ve ever been. There was probably a rainbow. I already loved London at that point, and discovering Borough Market solidified everything I felt about the city. It also sent me on a frenzy to visit food markets everywhere I travel. They’re fun alone or with a couple friends, and best attended when hungry. An absolute foodie dream. I’ve been thinking about my very first trip to Borough Market this past week, reminiscing about my solo venture to the Promised Land. I decided to compile a list of the food markets I’ve visited, as well as those I’d like to experience!

Food Markets I Love:

Mercado La Merced Riobamba, Ecuador  – My very first memorable food market experience, which is special because my Dad was born in Ecuador and I still have family living there. There were super outgoing vendors and delicious, fresh food. You haven’t lived until you’ve had the hornado. I’m drooling.

Borough Market London (SE1), England  – Big and Bad! (In the best way ever). Highlights include the barrage of sweets when you arrive, the tea towels and canvas bags, borough wines, and the pork belly sandwich I had once. Be still my heart. Top notch market that’s been around for 800+ years? Sold.

Heart of the City Farmers Market San Francisco, California, USA – Local, friendly vendors right in front of City Hall. I had the most delicious kalamata olives here, and I think I also had some pie. The olives overtook whatever else I tried – they were that good.

The Nosh Chicago, Illinois, USA – This Logan Square gem has been a new favorite of mine since I moved to Chicago a few months ago. It features local vendors including the world famous (to me) Bang Bang Pie. Highlights include the gourmet grilled cheese stand, organic apple cider, and the people walking cute dogs to the market each week.

Smorgasburg New York City, New York, USA – The New York Times called it “The Woodstock of eating.” Biases aside, this market really did have ‘cool’ written all over it. It was exactly what I expected of a Brooklyn food market, and so much more. Super hip, delicious food, crazy views of Manhattan. Loved it. A+

La Boqueria Barcelona, Spain – There’s a lot happening at this huge, covered market. Fresh juices, live lobsters, sweets for days. Lots of pig parts available to purchase. (Dare I say ALL pig parts?)

Milwaukee Public Market Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA – Does this count? It holds a special place in my heart, having lived in Milwaukee for 4 years during undergrad. Great bakery and wine bar!

Food Markets On My Bucket List:

English Market Cork, Ireland – My sister recently visited this market on a weekend trip to Cork and loved it! And on that note, I also absolutely have to mention the Galway Farmers Market, and you better believe I’ll be stopping by in just over 3 weeks. (hooray!)

Pike Place Market Seattle, Washington – I’d love to visit Seattle, and Pike Place definitely has something to do with that.

Mercato Albinelli Modena, Italy – If we’re being completely honest, the entire country of Italy is like a food market to me. But this one popped up on a list of 25 of the World’s Best Food Markets and definitely caught my eye. Plus the website is super nice. Plus… Italy. Duh.

Jemaa El-Fnaa Marrakesh, Morocco – Morocco would be an amazing place to visit, a different culture than I have experienced traveling thus far. The description of this market includes things like snake charmers, belly dancers, and monkey handlers putting on shows next to exotic tea stands. Yes.

Well, now that I’m sufficiently hungry I think this is a good place to end this post. Which amazing food markets should I add to my bucket list?

Chairs at Borough Market

 source: my own photo