Sure, you can cook, sometimes, but there’s not always a convergence of convenient living arrangements and cool stuff to see. Though it’s not a rule, a lot of times, the more special, the more off the beaten path a place is, the harder it is to find a kitchen.
So typically, you end up eating at local restaurants, which usually are pretty cheap. Unfortunately, if you’re in a small town, you can exhaust all viable options in a day and a half. So if you want to stick around longer and look at the butterflies for a few more days, you’d better get really used to eating shrimp and rice for lunch and dinner. Or chicken and rice, for lunch and dinner. Or anything else with rice for lunch and dinner.
I was talking with the owner of a relatively new restaurant here in Mindo, Ecuador, about the homogeneity of food when traveling. At his restaurant, they have only one option – the smorgasbord. And it is delicious. Sausage and cheese and home-baked bread, and sliced apples, and beets, and hummus, and (I couldn’t believe it was so good, but I ate sausage right after so it doesn’t make me a vegetarian) quinoa, all in little dishes. And even though it’s the only thing they serve, it’s so different from anything else I’ve had since December that I’ll make sure to have it before I leave – which means the fourth or fifth time.
We sat and watched a group of ecuadorian tourists come in, hear what he was offering, and then leave. Apparently, this happens every day.
I don’t want to sound like I think I know better than another culture. It does seem strange to not want to try something new, when every other restaurant serves the same three dishes.
Granted, there is pizza. There is always pizza, and spaghetti that hopefully has real tomato sauce instead of ketchup.
I always assumed that when traveling, I’d eat a wide variety of local foods and come to value all new flavors and ways of cooking, and I have. I guess I just never realized that the most common reason for moving on from one town to another would be that I had to just had to eat something different – and the next town might just have it.
In six months, I’ll probably deeply miss the shrimp and rice I had at every beach town in Ecuador. It was delicious. But since I had it at least once a day for nearly a month, just the thought of it makes me wish I could skip dinner.
Photo is shrimp and rice in Tonsupa, or maybe Canoa. Doesn’t really matter, there are at least 30 shrimp and rice restaurants between those two, and they’re all pretty much the same.