Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Easter (Pascua)

Here in Ecuador, today, Jueves Santos, and tomorrow, Viernes Santo, are the big days. Families will gather around the table to share in big bowls of fanesca, followed by a dollop of thick mashed potatoes and rice pudding for dessert. Much like Thanksgiving in the States, Ecuadorians will eat until they can eat no more, and then have one more bowl of fanesca.

Fanesca is a complex fish soup made of all sorts of spring harvest items: pumpkin and squash, beans, peas, corn, peanut sauce, even hominy or lentils in some families. Of course, you mustn't forget the dried salt cod, the main ingredient in the dish! Topped with fried sweet plantain, hard boiled egg, and fritos, small fried dough balls, this dish requires a lot of preparation. Sometimes the whole family gets involved shelling beans and cooking the grains beforehand, which makes it easier on the cook and helps build lasting bonds over the food.

It is very different from how Easter is typically celebrated in the States. Usually the Easter bunny has a show, and then everyone will hunt for eyes: plastic or previously dyed eggs. Families will often go to church in their Sunday best - typically new clothes bought for the occasion. Some may have an Easter brunch, while others will celebrate with a larger meal. The traditional fare is ham and potatoes, and possibly deviled eggs (you have to find something to do with all those dyed Easter eggs).

However you are celebrating the coming of Spring, have a happy break and spend lots of time with family and friends!

Pics from and, respectively.

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