Aah Ecuador, the middle of the earth, literally! The equator runs straight through the capital city, Quito. What’s in a name right? (You see ecuador-equator :D) Although one of smaller countries in South America it has a lot to offer: Amazone rainforest, Andes mountains and just of the coast the Galapagos Islands where Charles Darwin developed his world changing Evolution Theory. Food wise Ecuadorians are known for eating guinee pigs, but don’t worry no guinee pigs in my house, it’s not even available here. Quito is divided in two parts old town (more then 600 years old) and new town (100 years old) is more modern and represents how people live now. Ecuador has Incan ruins too. While neighboring Peru, home of Machu Pichu, is best known for its Incan ruins, Ecuador also has a powerful Incan legacy. Most of the Incan sites were destroyed by the Spanish, but there are still Incan and pre-Incan ruins scattered across the country. The best-preserved Incan ruin is Ingapirca
Things you didn’t know about Ecuador:
- Spanish isn’t the only language Ecuadorians speak. Quechua is an indigenous language that is widely spoken. It was here long before Europeans arrived and has no relationship to Spanish. Don’t worry: most people speak Spanish as well.
- The summit of Ecuador’s Chimborazo volcano is one of the highest points in the world. Due to the curvature of the Earth, it’s actually the point on the Earth’s surface furthest from the center of the planet.
- Don’t bother hitting up the currency exchange! Ecuador’s official currency is the US dollar. The country traded in their old currency, the Sucre, for the dollar in the year 2000.
- Perhaps more than any other South American nation, indigenous culture is alive and well in Ecuador. All South American nations include elements of both Spanish and indigenous cultures, but in Ecuador, many positions of importance are held by indigenous persons and indigenous culture is widely celebrated and preserved in dress, beliefs, language, and folklore.
- While you might believe that the panama hat is from Panama, it is not. While these hats were sold in Panama, they were traditionally made in Ecuador, and the finest Panama hats still come from this country.
Locro de Papas also known as cheese and potato soup is, the thought of putting cheese and potato in one soup didn’t really appeal to me at first but that was before I tried this! you really need to ad stuff to it to make taste epic because on it’s own it can be a little bland.
Drugs, violence and kidnapping not very long this was a pretty accurate picture the papers painted for us of Colombia, but the sights, sounds and people tell a different kind of story these days. Colombians are taking back their country and are celebrating their culture, their traditions and food. In only 10 years the large drug cartels have quietly fade into the background. To say Colombia is multicultural is an understatement Caribbean, hispanic and native influences are to be found throughout the country.
Here are some things you didn’t know about Colombia
- Colombia is one of seven countries that the United Nations indentified as major food exporters. Just about anything will grow there from kale to mangoes to potatoes.
- Colombians get 70% of their electric power from hydro. Their country’s rivers and winds are able to supply double the amount of energy they need.
- Colombia has more freshwater than the US and Canada put together.
- Medellin, home of the legendary late cocaine trafficker Pablo Escobar is today one of the safest cities in South America.
- Corinto in the department of Cauca, is the only place in the world where chickens learned how to swim, which the do in order to mate with the ducks that live on an island in the local river.
So this recipe was epic! Wow I was sooo impressed! And so was my family, my brother was so dissapointed when het came back from school and there were no leftovers the next day, even though I made extra. The chicken tasted sooo rich.
Chile, I have always wondered about that long narrow country in South America, what kind of place is this? Well apparently an awesome place with majestic mountains, and overwhelming lakes! And Easter Island I tried to read all the conspiracy theories but there are just too many The craziest of them are: Alien transport, the rats prevented the trees from regrowing so the population died of starvation. I other words some really creative people made up a story.
Here are some fun facts about Chile:
- Chile’s Atacama Desert is the driest place on earth. Some parts of the 363,000 square kilometers desert have never received a drop of rainfall.
- In the year 1554, the Spanish conquistadors brought the first grapes to be planted in South America. As fate would have it, the crop would succeed beyond their wildest dreams. Today, Chile is the 5th largest exporter of wine and the 9th largest producer of grapes in the world.
- According to Global Peace Index, Chile is the most stable and peaceful country in Latin America.
- Chile is the origin of 99% of the world’s potatoes. (Seriously!!!! If you see how many countries have potatoes in their diet, this is huge)
- The Straits of Magellan are popular with humpback whales. They are the only waters outside Antarctica waters where these whales gather for feeding.
My mom sometimes makes this really simple but delicious pasta a la vongole. Maybe I will give you the recipe to that someday,… 😉 This recipe is a very fancy starter! Delicious everything was gone I knew it!
- Heat the oven to 350ºF.
- In a small bowl, mix the wine and lemon juice; set aside. Scrub the clamshells under running water to remove any sand. Shuck the clams: Holding a clam with a thick towel, work an oyster knife between the two shells at the exact point of the hinge.
- Twist the knife, pry open, and scrape out the meat into a small bowl. Reserve the shells. Put the clam meat in a strainer and rinse again under cold running water. Drain. Rinse 24 of the deepest shells again and pat dry.
- Arrange the 24 shells on a baking pan. Divide the clam meat among the shells and top each with a teaspoon of the lemon-wine mixture and a scant grating of black pepper.
- Put a tiny chip of butter on top, and then a sprinkle of the Parmesan, evenly divided.
- Bake 4 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the clams are just cooked through. Do not overcook or the clams will become rubbery.
- Serve immediately.
Bolivia a country at the heart of South America, once part of the ancient Inca Empire. The Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire began in 1524, and was mostly completed by 1533. The place we now call Bolivia was known as “Upper Peru”, and was under the authority of the Viceroy of Lima. The locals were enslaved by the Spanish and worked in the silver, tin and salt mines. So yes the Bolivians have been through a lot, and they haven’t recovered. Bolivia is still one of the poorest countries in South America, so that’s why a lot of Bolivians immigrate to neighbouring countries like Argentina.
So here we go some fun facts about Bolivia:
- Bolivia got its name from Simon Bolivar, a leader in the Spanish American wars of Independence.
- La Paz, the capital city of Bolivia is the world’s highest city, located at an elevation of 3,630 meters.
- What do Bolivians do for fun? Fighting cholitas is the Bolivan’s version of Mexican lucha libre, a form of free fighting somewhere between passion-play, a wrestling match and bedlam. Bolivians crowd around the wrestling ring to watch female cholitas dressed in traditional clothing slam each other down and swing each other by their pig tails. (Okaaayy well this is slightly odd to say the least)
- The ‘so-so’ gesture (rocking your hand from side to side with palm down) means ‘no’ in Bolivia.
- It is impolite to show up on time to a social occasion. Guests are expected to be 15 to 30 minutes late for dinner or parties.
Here is a video of the cholitas fighting:
So here is the recipe, this week i made pukacapas, a bolivian pastry.
Ingredients: 3 cups of flour, 2 tsp baking powder, ¾ tsp salt, 1/3 c butter, cold and cut into small cubes, 2 eggs, 1/3 cups milk, 1 egg, beaten (for brushing on top) For the filling: 1 large onion, chopped, 1 red jalapeño minced, 1 green jalapeño minced, 1 tomato, chopped, 1 green onion chopped, 2 tbsp parsley chopped, 2 garlic cloves minced, ½ c green olives chopped, ¼ c vegetable oil, 3 c queso fresco crumbled
Argentina, the country of Maradona, Che Guevara, Evita, cowboys (gauchos) and tango. Argentina is one of the reasons I learned spanish, I’ve been dreaming to go there ever since I was about 15 years old and saw the movie Motorcycle Diaries. A really good movie about the young years of Che Guevara, still one of my favorite movies ever with the incredibly talented Gael Garcia Bernal (yes I know he is Mexican and not Argentinian, but still he is unbelievably hot)! Another famous Argentinian and probably one of the most well known soccer players ever Maradona, he is a really funny guy. During the soccer World Cup in South Africa in 2010 he was Argentina’s coach and instead of just yelling at the soccer players he used his entire body to make clarify what he ment. I love these kind of people who get so enthusiastic, passionate and emotional about what they are doing. It put a smile on my face every time I saw Argentina play! But these are all things you probably know about Argentina, let’s skip to the things you don’t know about Argentina.
- in Argentina beauty is really important 1 in 30 Argentinians undergoes plastic surgery.
- On the 15th of May Argentinians celebrate Friend’s Day, a day entirely dedicated to the celebration of friendship. It’s not an official holiday, but making reservations for restaurants of even a pub is advised.
- Argentina is considered one of largest and best quality producers of wine.
- I always wondered what the sun was doing on the Argentinian flag but apparently it’s the Sun of May (Sol de Mayo) it’s an old Inca symbol which refers to the month May. Now it’s the symbol for independency struggle during the revolution 18th – 25th May 1810.
Now let’s start this recipe! This week I made empanadas, and hell yeah they were delicious! And really not that difficult the hardest thing was folding the meat mixture in the dough but I had a little help with that because apparently my mom has a empanada maker which forms the dough into perfect little empanadas! very very very convenient if your as clumsy as I am! So let’s get started! Here’s what you need to make this recipe.
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, 2 white onions chopped, 500 gr of lean ground beef, 2 tablespoons of sweet paprika, 3/4 teaspoon of hot paprika, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 table spoon of white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup of raisins, 1/2 cup of green olives chopped, 2 hardboiled eggs chopped, salt to taste, puff pastry 2 big round sheets.
Fry off the onion with the coconut oil in a pan. Remove from the heat and and the sweet paprika, hot paprika, crushed red pepper flakes and salt. Spread the meat on a sieve and pour boiling water over it for partial cooking. (I know this sounds strange, but it really works)! Place the meat in a dish and add salt, cumin, vinegar and the onion mixture. Add the olives raisins, and eggs ,mix well and place on a flat dish to cool. Cut puff pastry into nice round shells. and place a spoon of the meat mixture in the middle of each round. Slightly wet the edge of the pastry, fold in two and stick edges together. The shape should resemble that of a half-moon. Seal by twisting edge, step by step, between thumb and index finger, making sure to add pressure before releasing the pinch and moving on to the next curl. Other sealing procedures like pinching without curling or using a fork to seal will not prevent juice leaks during baking, and empanadas must be juicy. (If you have an empanada maker , just put in the dough close is gently and carefully open is and your empanada will be perfect)
I found this really funny video about Argentina:
Next up is Armenia!