Everyone always says that the staples for mealtime in Ecuador are rice and mote. Well, I have had a different experience. At least in my house, the staples are rice, juice, and spoons.
Rice: I have not eaten a single meal, other than breakfast, that did not involve a lot of rice. Rice usually takes up at least half the plate at lunch and dinner. Don’t get me wrong; I am not complaining. I love rice! I just hope I still have that attitude 6 months from now.
Juice: Since arriving in Ecuador 4 weeks ago, I think I have tasted more flavors of juice than I had tasted in my entire life. At every meal, there is a giant pitcher of freshly made juice in the center of the table, and by the end the pitcher is empty. I have had juices made out of blackberries (my favorite), strawberries, oranges, lemons, limes, melons, papayas, tomatoes, and more. When I say it’s juice, I mean it’s an entire pulverized fruit, pulp, pit, seeds, and all.
Spoons: I believe my family owns exactly 2 forks, and I don’t know why because I have never once seen them used. Forks basically don’t even exist, knives are for cutting the cakes my host mom loves to make, scissors are for cutting meat to be served, and spoons are for eating. If you can’t cut the food with the spoon, you just use your fingers and bite it. Have you ever tried to eat spaghetti with a spoon? If so, I feel for you; if not, I don’t recommend it.
Meals at my house go something like this… Everyone is called to eat. My sister, Miriam, brings a plate of 7 spoons to the table, along with a pitcher of juice. My brother, Juan Carlos, brings 7 glasses to the table. My mom, Maria, loads plates for me and my sister, Mayra, to bring to the table. Everyone takes a spoon and digs into their meat, rice, and salad. My nephew, David, reads his book or homework out loud, announcing every backpack he sees in the pictures, while everyone else holds a conversation that I can sometimes follow. Now that I think about it, it’s probably good that I’m not always involved in the conversation… It gives me time to focus on learning how to use a spoon, yet another way in which I have returned to toddlerhood.