Despite its determining role in our culture and the surprising variety of dishes for such a small country, Ecuadorian cuisine has followed an erratic development. Its mass consolidation occurred mainly through an informal verbal exchange.”

Ecuador: tradiciones de ayer para la mesa de hoy”, A. T.Pérez, M. Cepeda, H. Miño, ed. Universidad San Francisco de Quito 2012.

When I take a cab, generally I ask the taxi driver. assuming he is local, about his or her favorite dish. In Ecuador, surprisingly, the most common answer is "anything". I don't know if it's because of some lazy thinking that they summon this quick answer, but the truth is that is gives a culinary conformism feeling. What does the lack of favorite food say about the Ecuadorian nature? Is not that I can make a national judgement based on the vague responses of a few tired drivers, but, without wanting it, I find it quite alarming. What do they mean "anything"?

However, the answers vary when I ask about the typical Ecuadorian food. Is maybe the word "favorite" to wide? When I enclose it to "typical", it seems that, suddenly, I speak their language. In Ambato for example, a little town in the mountains, everyone firmly agrees that the Llapingacho defines their appetite. This filling dish, common point between opinions and taxi drivers, consists, in general terms, on potatoes, chorizo, egg and a salad. It can also be referred only to the potatoes, which are cooked shaping the boiled potatoes like a kind of patty, filled with cheese and fried on achiote oil. This oil is typical Ecuadorian, and its red color gives to the potatoes on the pan the golden that reaches the heart before going through the throat. The potatoes must be of the variety "chola", which, in spite of sounding like golden earrings, chewing gum with your mouth open and tracksuits in Spanish (try it, say: PAPA CHOLA aloud), is the one which has the highest amount of starch and therefore the most suitable for this matters in need of agglutinins. 

The llapingacho, in my opinion, is another version of what I would define as "international comforting food", because it fills the hunger and takes you, one way or another, to the sofa. The name might come from the quechua "llapiy", which means to mash according to this blog.