Eating Salads in Cuenca, Ecuador

March 3, 2013 at 1:44 am 1 comment

I have to admit, I miss the take-out salads of North America and Europe, and the reliable salad bars at Whole Foods Markets where I would spend $3 for breakfast and $4 for lunch with the added bonus of great variety (ready-made organic quinoa, etc.), WiFi (an instant office), and a blissful array of natural products to return home with – organic shampoos, other organic products – body creams, vitamins, household cleansers. No such all-in-one place in Cuenca.

The key here is to be adaptable, to ask everyone you meet up with what they have found, and, to continue the search.  Here, one of my searches has been for salad…

I grew up eating fresh salads. I realize I am not standard issue and am more particular than most. But if you are at all like me, you’ll survive… here is what I have found….

Oro Verde Gourmet Deli Take-Out

Oro Verde Gourmet Deli Take-Out

The closest approximation of take-out salads, as North Americans and Europeans know them, is at the upscale Gourmet Deli at the Hotel Oro Verde on Ordonez Lasso. Plan on spending $5-$6, not including something to drink; it’s a quiet place to be if you plan to eat your salad there. Another place I find to be reliable is the Spanish deli chain La Espanola at Mall del Rio (also in Guayaquil and Quito). The servers behind the counter will create the salad to your specifications, i.e. without meat (all their meat is processed), without cheese, etc., and serve you Spanish olive oil and lemon on the side. See photo below; the white items on the left are mushrooms which they substituted for meat or poultry.

If you are planning to eat out as opposed to take-out, you can find salads that have a familiar look to them at California Kitchen on Luis Cordero near Calle Larga, where you will feel like you are in the U.S. (a favorite ex-pat restaurant, well-managed by a delightful American family from San Diego), and at the intimate Windhorse Café on Calle Larga (run by precious Americans, former Peace Corps volunteers) where the salad(s) of the day will contain organic ingredients from their own garden or ingredients they’ve selected at markets. Other salads catering to “Western” palates can be found at Coffee Tree, Hotel Victoria, Mansion Alcazar.

El Espanol, Mall del Rio

El Espanol, Mall del Rio

El Espanol salad

El Espanol salad

Another option is to find the ingredients and make your own salad.

I am fortunate to have a French friend in Cuenca with refined food tastes; she makes it a point to be at an organic market at 6 am to find the freshest produce possible. She washes all she returns with in vinegar and water and puts a lot of love energy into her creations. Here below is her 100% organic salad made from Cuenca area produce, need I say that it was delicious?!

organic masterpiece with Cuenca produce

organic masterpiece with Cuenca produce

Here below is a photo of a salad I prepared with local produce.  Mine was less labor intensive than that of my talented French friend, and not 100% organic:

Green Lab hydroponic lettuce from Supermaxi

Ecuadorian hydroponic lettuce

Ecuadorian hydroponic lettuce

Ecua Organic albahaca (basil) from Supermaxi, better than any organic basil I have tasted in California

Shredded carrots from Supermaxi, I usually buy the organic but not available daily

Avocado from Supermaxi

Green Garden cherry tomatoes from Supermaxi, “natural” but not organic

Potato salad with peas and hard-boiled eggs, no sugar added, from Bocatti

Anise seeds, more flavorful than any I’ve purchased in the U.S., found at Coral

Dried oregano, from Supermaxi, more flavorful than any I’ve purchased in the U.S.

Ecuadorian sea salt from the Feria Libre market, gift from European friends

Lemon from the organic farm of the owner of the condo where I am staying

Spanish olive oil from Supermaxi, not the quality of what you find at Trader Joe’s

but I’ve heard there is a private Ecuadorian source for top quality

olive oil that a number of ex-pats have found, hope to meet that source

Cuenca produce, salad at homeCuenca produce, salad at home

Please click on photos to enlarge.

Here’s to your discovery of healthful salads and salad ingredients in Cuenca!  Buen provecho!!

Addendum:  My French friend read the blog and somehow felt it was implied that hydroponically grown lettuce is organic.  So for clarification, here’s a link to an article on the subject:  http://www.tmsspecialtyproducts.com/article/Is-hydroponic-lettuce-organic/201003180801MCT_____NEWSSERV_BC-HOME-HYDROPONIC-ND_58080

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Entry filed under: Food in Ecuador, Travel blog. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Susie  |  March 24, 2013 at 12:15 am

    The salads do look appetizing and healthy. There is much to discover in Cuenca, I’m sure. Isn’t it interesting that much the organic fresh fruit and vegetables carried at Whole Foods in North American winters is grown in Chile? I wonder if you can easily find those products in Ecuador?

    Reply

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