Ever wanted to venture off the beaten path? How about way, way off the beaten path?
Feeling adventurous one afternoon during my Galapagos vacation in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, I went to the municipal fruit and vegetable market, or mercado municipal. At this market, vendors sell piles of fruit, vegetables, raw meats, fish, eggs to the locals. Other vendors prepare and sell Ecuadorean food in the plaza just outside the market.
I did not see any other tourists, and the lack of turtles and sea lions painted everywhere signalled that I had ventured far off the tourist path.
Note: To get there, just flag down a taxi from anywhere in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island. The taxis are the white trucks which drive by frequently, and fare (as of 2014) should only cost $1 USD for anywhere within the town center. Walk around the building until you see the plaza with little tables set up, you have now arrived!
Don’t forget to wander around once you’re inside to check out all the fresh fruits and veggies. You can see naranjilla(bitter orange), tomate de arbol (tree tomato), and other weird fruits you have probably been drinking in juice without knowing what they are from.
Here’s What You Can Try (if you dare!)
These are listed in order from most gringo-friendly to most adventuresome foods.
Empanadas are deep fried savory pastries filled with cheese, chicken or beef. Greasy but delicious!
Morocho Corn Drink
Morocho is a sweet, hot white corn drink made out of cracked corn, milk, sugar, and raisins. It is served hot and with chunks of corn still in it. Morocho and a cheese empanada is my guilty pleasure.
These come in sausage, and chicken wings and are roasted over hot coals on the grill.
Grilled plantains, corviche, and muchines de yuca
The easily recognizable food in this picture is the grilled plantain (at the bottom of the pic.) Next, we have the dark brown fried balls which are muchines de yuca, or fried stuffed yucca balls, which can have either cheese or meat. The light brown balls (at the top of the pic) are corviches, or a deep fried ball of fish, ground up peanuts, and unripened plantain or verde (literally translates to “green”). I personally like grilled plantains but find the other two too greasy.
Last, but not least…Grilled cow intestines!
The raw intestines in the middle are flanked by the finished product (right) and cheese potato pancakes or llapingachos (left, in the back).
Have you tried any of the above? Let us know if you liked them!