After a 2-hour conversation in Spanish about our past travels (my tutor’s questions) and all things Quito (my questions), I was ready to tackle the market. Mercedes, mi profesora, assured me that eating almuerzo (lunch) in the market was quite safe health-wise as the market was controlled by the municipality. As well, you can see your food being prepared, dishes and hands being washed, etc.
So after classes, we walked to Santa Clara mercado and picked up some fast food, Ecuadorian style. We started with a very filling, large bowl of flavourful soup with lots of cauliflower for me; and with a chunk of pork hock, vegetables, and beans for Ken; both topped off with fresh cilantro. A glass of berry juice and a hot plate–chicken with noodles, rice, and salad for me; fried corvina (a type of fish) with all the sides for Ken. This meal set us back the princely sum of $2 each.
Once sated, we hit the market for a few productos naturales.
First thing on the list was a babaco, which I had read about in the article, An A-Z Guide to Ecuador’s Most Common Produce. (Since this is the second time I’ve mentioned this article, and I suspect not the last, I’m going to refer to it from now on as A-Z.)
Babaco: A cousin of the papaya, the babaco is a seedless fruit, and entirely edible. Even the smooth skin can be eaten. It is said to have a flavor similar to that of strawberry, papaya, kiwi, and pineapple.
$1.50 for a large babaco, and another $3.50 for a bag of tiny potatoes, a bag of white onions, a bag of tomatoes, a bunch of cilantro, and a bag of the large white corn kernels called mote (learned that at Spanish class!). To my American friends and family, these prices may not sound amazing, and it’s possible they are gringo prices, but to we Canadians, two heavy bags of farm fresh produce for $5 is a steal.