You must absolutely must visit...
You must absolutely must visit 'El Panecillo'. The history behind and the view on top of it are a true marvel.
It is a mountain in the middle of the city with the statue of Maria. The history says that when the indigenous were there, there was an enormous treasure of gold. But when the Spanish 'conquistadores' took over the city, they didn't find anything. But a hill rose in the middle of the city: 'El Panecillo'. Legends say the gold is still in there. I miss the people. I miss the culture. I miss the city. I miss the food. I miss everything!
This could be a shopping tip, but it is more of a fond memoury. Sergio's friend Edwin Covos, who runs a graphic design business, found an old, abandoned coffee machine. This is not an old Mr. Coffee he picked up at a yard sale, rather a gigantic machine which takes the coffee beans all through the process. He restored the old coffee machine and now he has a side business of making coffee. I bought one of those gold bags you see in the background for only $5.
Quimbolitos are corn-based desserts served decoratively in their husks (folks from Roxboro, don't eat the husk). It tastes rather like American cornbread, except sweeter- rather like the cornbread the Virgilina Volunteer Fire Department serves with its Brunswick stew. Quimbolitos are not found on Ecuador's coast as it is mainly an Andean delicacy.
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter
6 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup seedless raisins
2 tablespoons cognac or light rum
Soften the butter at room temperature. In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs mixed with the milk. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder, and stir into the batter mixture. Stir in the cheese, raisins, and cognac or rum. Cut either kitchen parchment or aluminum foil into six 8x12-inch rectangles. Drop 3 tablespoons of the mixture into the center of each, and fold up into an envelope. Arrange in a steamer and cook over boiling water for 45 minutes. Serve hot, with or without cream. In Ecuador the Quimbolitos are cooked in achira leaves. If you can't find these at your local Piggly Wiggly, cook them them in parchment or foil.
Building in Quito - Construire a Quito
Well, as in most of the country, buildings are somewhat unfinished, even in Quito, the capital. The way they're sometimes repaired is also pretty weird, as security means are less than the required european standard. A single net with big holes is supposed to prevent stones from falling (look at the picture).
Comme dans la majorite du pays, les edifices ne sont pas souvent acheves, et Quito, la capitale, n'echappe pas a la regle. La facon que les ouvriers ont, egalement, de reparer est un peu particuliere, les conditions europeennes basiques de securite etant loin d'etre reunies. Un simple filet avec de gros trous est cense prevenir la chute de pierres (voir photo).
This small town is filled with stores that carry leather goods--purses, coats, wallets, etc. Some stores are nicer than others so look around. We got there late in the afternoon and by 6pm the stores were closing so go early in the day for best selection. Great purses for $10-$20, leather jackets for $50-$100, belts, wallets, if it can be made from leather you'll find it here! In the stores you pay the asking price. Some places would charge extra to use a credit card.