When I walked back into my yard after delivering lunch to the workers in the field, BAM. There was a dead and bloody pig lying in the dirt. Golly I sure do love Ecuadorian surprises. My mom had told me earlier in the week that we were going to kill a pig although I had forgotten. “Just a small one” she had said, for “Dia de los Defuntos.”
“Dia de los Defuntos” or Day of the Dead is one of the biggest Ecuadorian Holidays. It is spent remembering lost loved ones; every family has their own twist though. If you’d like to keep reading I’ll give you a run down of how my family celebrated.
On October 30th my mom and 2 of her sisters killed, gutted, cleaned and prepared the pig. It was amazing how smoothly the y worked together, like they had done it a hundred times before. The highlight of the butchering for me was helping wash the intestines and stomach in the river with soap and salt. Later on the intestines got stuffed with rice, cabbage, plantains and…pig blood! So we all feasted on stuffed pig intestine delicacy that night. My thoughts on the flavor: mushy and not much else.
The next morning we went just down the road to my dad’s siblings’ house. When we arrived around 7:30 my extended family had already gotten to work. They were making guaguas (children) out of bread dough. That may sound creepy that they eat bread in the shape of children, but just think about the American gingerbread man.
So as I was thinking about why we make and eat gingerbread men, I stepped up to the table surrounded by my family and I stuffed the ball of dough with cheese and sent it down to an aunt who had the clay guagua mold to press it into. Then trays and trays of guaguas got brought to the brick oven to get baked. This process of stuffing, molding and baking got repeated hundreds of times that day. When all the bread was done baking the pig got put in the oven. At the end of the day the estimated number of guaguas we made was one thousand two hundred. You heard me right: 1,200. Needles to say we ate guaguas of bread at every meal for a while. With the guaguas we drank colada morada, which is a cold or warm thick blackberry drink. It has small chunks of pineapple and apple in it too.
On the first of November we went over the cemetery and repainted family members cement graves. Later that night we returned to the cemetery to light candles and sit by the graves of loved ones.
On the second of November the actual holiday we of course feasted on bread, pork and colada morada all day. That evening we went to mass and then headed over to the cemetery again. This time there was even more people and candles. Some people spent all night there. My family stayed there until only about 10:00 which is pretty late for us country folk who are always in bed by 9:00. As I was walking away from the glowing cemetery on the hill I felt perfectly at ease in my new home.
Now I know that was a nice closing note but I said I would update you on new meats I had eaten and so, now I have eaten Ecuadorian duck. I have enjoyed many parts of the pig not enjoyed in the states like, heart, liver, tongue and others that I didn’t get seen thrown in the pot. I slurped down a pig hoof soup with joy. Last but not least the classics Ecuadorian cuy (guinea pig) has made its way onto my plate. The best part of it all is that I haven’t even gotten sick!
(Some of the pictures below got cut off, if you want to see the them in their full glory please click on them)