Ecuadorian cuisine and flavors are really diverse and exotic: the inviting smells, textures and m
agnificent taste of a wide range of fruits and vegetables – some of them only found in this country – make local dishes quite a pleasing, eye-opening experience.
When it comes to customs and gastronomy, one of the most interesting dishes is the famous Fanesca which is a soup made with different grains and pieces of dried cod fish traditional served on Good Friday and follows the tradition of not eating red meat during Holy Week.
In Ecuador, the cuisine in each region varies according to local climate and growing conditions which are even influenced by the altitude of the regions. However, this Ecuadorian Easter soup is very popular all over Ecuador as a result of the Roman Catholic influence on this culture. As a family tradition, most Ecuadorians get together on Easter to commemorate their religious heritage by preparing and eating this thick soup served in a bowl to remember and honor the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The traditional Fanesca recipe consists of a delicate fusion of twelve grains – which represent the twelve apostles. They include: corn, lentils, fava beans, lima beans, white beans, red beans, peas, rice, roasted peanuts, chickpeas, lupine beans, and mellocos, with several other interesting ingredients like zambo or pumpkin, zucchini, chonta cheese, milk, butter, white onions, butter, pepper, cumin and salted cod in representation of Jesus. However, each grandmother has her own variation of Fanesca and claims it is the best.
Preparing this popular Ecuadorian soup is a demanding process because all beans must be peeled and boiled separately the night before so they mix perfectly with the other elements. Also, the pumpkin and zucchini are cooked together in little water until they dissolve while onion salt and pepper meet in a different pan. When both of them are done, they are mixed in a big bowl with the previously prepared rice. The main purpose of this process is to get an even and consistent mixture. The following step is stirring the mixture uniformly with the milk, and adding, one by one, the beans, peanut butter and cheese. Afterwards, it is time to spice it up with salt, cumin and pepper.
An important consideration for this recipe is that the cod must be soaked for 24 hours to soften the influence of the salt. The procedure may vary a little from family to family; some people prefer to add the cod and the milk to the mix, while others would rather drain it to add only the milk. After the complex process is done, the next and last step is the garnishing. The presentation often involves some hardboiled egg slices, accompanied by fried ripe plantains and fresh cheese.
There is no doubt why Ecuadorian families consider the making of this plate to be a sacred practice and the ideal choice on Good Friday. It not only requires hard work and careful attention but also provides them with an opportunity to show their appreciation, love and devotion.
From Advantage Travel Ecuador, we support the tradition and recommend everyone coming to Ecuador to try this wonderful dish onboard of our cruises.