The other day I was invited by my good pal Merle to attend a private cooking class. I jumped at the opportunity and wondered what the class would have in store for us. Upon arrival, I learned we would be making beef empanadas, andean salad, and finally banana bread. The class started with us trying to artfully kneed empanada dough before filling it with carne molida, a delicious mixture of peppers and beef. Turns out watching my fair share of cooking shows throughout my time here has subconsciously given me a bit of know how in the kitchen. This is a by-product of missing all the fantastic food my hometown Houston, Texas has to offer. Next, we prepared the andean salad which featured lettuce, quinoa, vegetables, and a lovely honey dijon mustard dressing. The banana bread turned out to be the easiest dish to make, only needing flour, sugar, one banana, baking powder, oil, and the expert eye of our cooking teacher. When Merle and I sat down to eat our culinary masterpieces, we could help but remark on just how good everything tasted. Within the southern regional cohort, Merle and I have notably struggled with receiving sufficient food from our host families. As a result, we have made great strides in learning how to prepare our own food to meet the demand of our ever-growing appetite. Subsequently we made a pact to continue our studies in the culinary arts when we return home to our respective cities. That day definitively serves as a highlight of the last bit of time I will be spending in Ecuador. Not only was I able to expand my knowledge of Ecuadorian cuisine, but I was able to do it with a good friend.