Or “Eating in Cuenca”
Okay, let’s just face it. More than a month has gone by since we were in Spain and my motivation to write about our day trips to Cuenca and Toledo is pretty much non-existent. So here’s the plan: I will post some pictures in a page labeled “Cuenca and Toledo, España” which you can click on at the top of this post. And I will get back to writing about our experiences in Cuenca, Ecuador. Deal? Deal.
When asked by friends and family how we spend our days as retired immigrants inevitably the answer has a lot to do with food. We eat at home some but according to Glenn “the accountant” Gano, our eating out budget and grocery budget are generally about the same. Eating out costs can range dramatically here as can the cost of food bought for home consumption. Buying and eating local foods are the most economical way to go, of course.
We almost always eat breakfast at home and it usually consists of fruit, cereal and yogurt. Our favorite fruits are pineapple, mango, Ecuadorian apples (little but sweet), and red bananas.
Sometimes, we will fry some eggs or make up a scramble with fresh veggies, if we’re feeling a bit peckish later in the morning.
Lunch is the most fun. More often than not we will be out and about in the city and will stop for an “Almuerzo” somewhere near where we are. We wrote about almuerzos in an earlier post (“Let’s Do Almuerzo” back on October 24 – check out the archives) so we won’t go into too much detail now. Recently, we’ve discovered a few new places.
Another inexpensive place we’ve found recently to eat lunch or a snack is “Jhuly’s”. They serve a variety of empanadas (different fillings and different flours for the dough), humitas, tortillas de choclo, fruit juices and other typical foods. All the food items seem to be about 80 cents and the fruit juices were $1.25. You can have yourself a pretty filling meal as you pick and choose what you’d like to try.
When we eat dinner at home, it is usually vegetarian. The picture at the top of this post gives you an idea of what we have to choose from! But often we enjoy dinner out friends and dine at a variety of restaurants.
We often have dinner with our friends and fellow singers Rachel and Pete after our Monday night chorale rehearsal. It is a bit of a challenge to find a good place that is open as many restaurants are closed on Mondays. We did find this cute little eatery called “Cositas” a couple of weeks ago and it is open on Monday!
Usually, dinners out are not quite this inexpensive. One evening we went to “Red Angus” to have some good steak and hamburgers.
On most Saturdays, “Joe’s Secret Garden” serves a set menu of American food. This is very popular with the Gringos and we will admit to having indulged twice. The barbeque ribs, coleslaw, baked beans, roasted potatoes and cinnamon rolls for desert were amazing. The fried chicken was also very nice. It’s a bit of a splurge but it’s a great outing with friends.
If we had to commit to a “favorite” restaurant, we would definitely go with “Fabiano’s”. They consistently serve great pizzas and other Italian meals for very reasonable prices. We often go to Fabiano’s if we are planning to attend a concert in El Centro in the evening.
Just like in North America, here in Ecuador there are certain foods that are primarily eaten at specific times of the year to commemorate a holiday. As turkey is to American Thanksgiving, “Fanesca” is to Ecuadorian Good Friday. Fanesca is a rich soup made from 12 grains and beans (to represent the 12 disciples) and salt cod called bacalao (which represents Jesus). Typically Fanesca can be garnished with a hard boiled egg, plantains, fresh cheese, and even empanadas. Every Ecuadorian family has their own recipe and the three different Fanescas we had were each unique and delicious.
As you can tell, we enjoy eating our way around Cuenca. We’re sure we would have gained weight in the past six months of living here if it weren’t for the fact that we walk practically everywhere we go, including restaurants. We’ve actually lost weight due in part to our walking but also because of the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables we regularly consume. We love it.
Some of you might be wondering what we do besides eat. Good question and the answer is – quite a lot. Most recently, we have been extremely busy preparing for a concert that the Cuenca International Chorale is presenting on April 9. We both sing in the chorale as well as a smaller ensemble so we have had many rehearsals recently. Mara helped put together the program and led some extra rehearsals as well.
We also have activities with our church such as playing and singing in the worship band, cleaning the church, women’s Bible study, Men’s prayer breakfast, etc.
Helping university students improve their English at the Cuenca Cultural Exchange every few weeks is another rewarding activity. We get together with friends to visit and play games which is huge fun. And of course, we continue studying and using our Spanish. A few weeks ago we went up to the local hot springs and soaked in the mineral rich water and had mud baths.
Don’t forget you can check out our photos from Toledo and Cuenca, Spain by clicking on the page name at the top of this post. We leave for the US in a week to spend four weeks visiting family and friends. It is very likely that our next post will be about Reverse Culture Shock! Until then . . .
What we’ve learned: Retirement is hard work!
What we need to learn: Not to work so hard!