Easter, fanesca and the flavors from the Andes in Ecuador
If you are in Ecuador during Easter and are looking forward to delighting your palate with some of the flavors from the Andes cordillera, Fanesca is the soup for you!
What is fanesca
This traditional rich soup eaten during the Cuaresma period (Lent) has as main ingredients, 12 different beans, and grains and is just eaten during Holy Week.
Some of its ingredients include beans, habas or fava beans, lentils, garbanzos, split peas, mote, or hominy, among others, so it really varies from one home to another.
A unique ingredient is chochos, they are found only in the Northern part of the highlands of Ecuador and are a good source of protein.
Part of the ingredients are endemic to the Andes cordillera, hence my suggestion that you taste it if you are on-site during the Easter holidays.
If you are Ecuador, I would love to see your pictures.
Symbology and tradition
There is a lot of tradition and symbology linked to this mouth-watering soup.
- The 12 different ingredients are representing the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ.
- The fish represents Our Savior Jesus Christ.
- It is eaten during Lent, a period when Catholics in America will abstain from eating any meat. Thus, the use of grains and milk as the main source of protein.
This soup which is rich per se, is, in addition, garnished with fried plantains, flour empanadas, and hard-boiled eggs, just as you can see in the picture below.
The preparation takes some time because each bean has to be soaked and cooked on its own. Therefore this is a perfect opportunity to gather the family, sometimes to work in the preparation of the soup, and others to delight the taste buds with the final product.
With socialization as the main axe of the culture, the concept of family in Latin America is larger than in many Western countries, for us family extends to aunts, uncles, cousins, and maybe even second-degree family. This is why, any occasion is a great opportunity to meet family members and spend some time together.
Most restaurants will add this traditional soup to their menus so that tourists can also enjoy this Ecuadorian dish as part of their experience in the country.
After a nice big bowl of fanesca, which combines most flavors from the Andes, we enjoy a dessert called arroz con leche (rice pudding).
Another option is a tasty dulce de higos dessert(figs in syrup), which is most of the time eaten together with fresh cheese (queso fresco), which is common in Latin-American cuisine.
Some families also enjoy pristiños with some delicious syrup as dessert.
Food is a big part of any culture, therefore I will highly recommend that you taste this soup and this dessert on your visit to Ecuador.
Have you tasted some traditional dishes in Ecuador? Tell me about it!
If you would like to make some of the desserts from South America, the book Dulce: Desserts in the Latin-American Tradition by Joseluis Flores has some amazing recipes. It is a well-written book with some of the best dessert recipes in Latin-American cuisine.
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