After leaving Peru, we briefly went to Quito, the capital of Ecuador, before heading to the Galapagos Islands.
Our hotel was located in the historic center. which is the best preserved and least altered in Latin America, and was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1978.
As pretty as Quito is, Alastair and I aren’t really the kind of people that get excited about looking at churches and old buildings. So before we left Australia, I decided what I *really* wanted to do in Quito was a cooking class or a market tour (surprise surprise). Unfortunately, our only whole day there was a Sunday, so there were no cooking classes available.
But there was a market tour. And you know how much I like visiting markets so I booked us into a half day tour which included a visit to Inaquito Market.
We bummed around in the morning, before meeting up with our guide, Juarez. It turned out to be just us three and a driver – we basically hired a friend and a driver for the afternoon.
Before heading to Inaquito Market, we took a ride on the aerial tramway, Telefériqo, to near the top of Pichincha volcano, which overlooks Quito. The top of the tramway is located at about 4,100 metres (13,500ft), and from there it’s easy to see the layout of the city. The city of Quito is positioned in the Ecuador’s northern highlands in the Guayllabamba river basin. It’s flanked by Andes mountains on one side, and on the west is the volcano Pinchincha, so the city is long and thin – it’s about 40km long but only about 5km at its widest.
And then to market, to market. Located in the north of the city, Inaquito market sells fruit, vegetables, seafood, meat, dry goods, medicinal herbs and all other kinds of produce.
We wandered around, our guide pointing out interesting tidbits. He also did some of his shopping while there – hah.
We stopped for awesome juices – Alastair had carrot and orange, and I had blackberry.
And we sampled some mussels that were gathered from mangroves.
There were two food courts at the market, and as we passed through, Juarez pointed out all the different foods. This is part of an Andean specialty – yahuarlocro – a blood stew (more on that later).
This is what they call warm ice cream. It looks like meringue?
When we reached the fruit section, we sampled some. Yay!
We didn’t try this one. I believe it’s a cherimoya, and it’s apparently incredibly delicious. Unfortunately it was too big for us to sample.
But we did try this one. It’s called mamey.
This is the inside of the mamey. The flesh was sweet, creamy and soft, and flavourwise was a bit floral.
And this one is a caimito. The flesh was very sweet and soft, with a mild flavour. The skin is inedible and is really, really sticky.
We also ate a big passionfruit – lovely and sweet.
We happened to visit on the Sunday where all the stall holders were tidying up their stalls. Once a month everyone does a big clean, so many of the stall holders were busy painting their shelves.
After fruit sampling, we had a wander through the rest of the market.
And then we had lunch – my favourite part!
Mhmmm epic crackling. Alastair selected a pork dish for lunch.
It came on top of mashed potatoes (coloured with a bit of spice). The meat was sooo lovely, and the crackling was awesome.
Unfortunately, he may or may not have gotten food poisoning from it. Ahhhh. Let’s just say the flight to the Galapagos the following day was a bit uncomfortable for him. Poor thing!
Whereas I wanted the strangest food possible, so I selected the previously mentioned yahuarlocro. Yahuarlocro is a Quechua word that roughly means blood stew. The red/purple part was made from cow stomach, which is mixed with blood and flavourings. It came with a thick potato soup that contained chunks of potato and chicken. It was hearty, filling and really good.
Since I didn’t get sick, I have great memories from that day. I bonded with Juarez about food, got to sample different fruit, and eat an Andean specialty. Good day in my books!
Mercado de Iñaquito
Iñaquito y Villalengua, west of Amazonas, La Y Trole stop