We met Joffrey at his hardware store in San Jacinto at noon, he closed up and we waited for the bus. He had just taken a tumble, and was doing medico on his wound while we waited. The bus came and we headed towards RocaFuerte. We thought the invitation was to then get on a boat, but that never happened, we instead got a ride someways out into the farmland to a large restaurant.
We realized we were not going to a Ceviche festival, just out to lunch for authentic Ecuadorean fare. Our first course was Gallina Criolla, this may be slightly seasonal, because I'd never seen the word Criolla until recently, then I started seeing it everywhere, I'd figured out is was cheese, but wasn't prepared for how one ate it.
It came in a bowl, very wet cheese, after mashing it a bit, it was a mix of ricotta and cottage cheese in taste and texture. It also came with what I believe to be roasted bananas (plantains), they were peeled, and cooked to a very overdone, almost chalky consistency that you then crumbled into the cheese. It was interesting, tasty, but nothing I'm going to loose sleep craving. The next item was more of a dessert item, but remember the Ecuadoreans are not huge sweet eaters.
Joffrey couldn't partake in this, because he is allergic to peanuts. (I'd wondered about that, since peanuts are so big in Ecuador cooking) these plantains are more what we get with most meals, they are grilled to bring out the natural sweetness, and are soft and mushy. The powder is mani, pulverized peanuts with some seasoning, it's sometimes sold with cheese. We were told to dip the plantain bite into the mani powder and it tasted like a peanut butter banana sandwich. Again, tasty, but I probably won't add it to my daily diet.
This is Chicha, pronounced chee-cha, we had it once (again with Joffrey) in Charapoto, but it was very different then. Let me explain, Chicha is made with corn kernels soaked in water until they germinate. Then boiled and fermented for several days, resulting in a milky yellow liquid, sweet at the beginning of the fermentation process, becoming sour and raising in alcohol content as it progresses. It is used as a holy water of sorts at festivals, but it never gets stronger than beer, and in some areas beer is becoming more common. When we had it in Charapoto, it was room temperature, and sour, my body would only allow one sip to pass my lips, but this version was sweet, and served over ice, I drank plenty. Joffrey said the stuff we got in Charapoto was commercialized, and this was home made, hence the difference.
We paid our bill, $3.50 and walked down the road to the next stop. Had to stop for a little more medical attention, and saw some Falcons, and pretty water hyacinth.
We arrived at the next restaurant this one serving Viche, which is a peanut based soup, so again Joffrey couldn't have any. We got a bowl of Mixto to share and it was yummy, guess no pictures of that one, oops. It had shrimp, a couple different fish and veggies. Big glasses of fresh orange juice and we were stuffed, no mas por favor! Good thing we had a bit of a walk, that Viche is filling.
Ladies in the outdoor kitchen. We walked back towards downtown Rocafuerte, talking about this and that. Found out Joffrey is one of 10 children, and his papa had another family that had 5 children. It is very common for Ecuadorean men to have more than one wife ( not in the same house) and Joffrey himself has 4 kids, but is no longer married. We walked by this rice distribution center for lack of a better word, and couldn't pass up the picture of the dogs.
Was the one in the chair recently drinking from that bottle on the table? Don't drink so much you can't guard those bags of rice, haha. Malo perro (bad dog). The first picture of the three of us is in Rocafuerte in front of the church in the main square, it was getting late in the afternoon, so much of the town was closed for Sunday siesta, so we caught the bus back to San Jacinto.
We had a wonderful day, and enjoyed learning some spanish, and getting to spend time with Joffrey. He recently found us a little house to rent for $250 per month, and when we get settled, we will invite him over for dinner. I'm more determined to learn spanish, and will start a new online lesson today. But first, a walk on the beach is calling, the marine layer hasn't burned off yet, so it's very pleasant. A bag for shells, and our pups on the beach, perfecto! So, stay tuned, the adventure continues, one outing at a time!