Food is every in Ecuador. If you have $5 in your pocket you can easily eat for a day. Street food is extremely popular here in Ecuador and is everywhere you can possibility think. It seems like there are vendors on every street corner, bus stop and traffic intersection. Vendors will even go on city buses and long distance buses to sell their items, and at 25 cents to $1 it is a reasonable price to tied you over for a few hours.
In Ecuador there are tons of open air markets that sell everything you could think of and everything you didn't think of. If you love eating fruits and vegetables than Ecuador is the place for you. Its amazing how much fruit and vegetables are being sold at local markets and on the streets. Candies and ice cream are also in high abundance because there is nothing more that Ecuadorians love than sugar (well, maybe salt – close tie). Meat is also sold, everything from pork, beef, chicken (of course the most popular), fish and every internal/external organ known to science. You can buy it cooked, raw or if you prefer… still living. It is an experience in it's own to walk down a meat market and see what is all being prepared for the day. And its an experience all by its self to smell it. In open air markets the smell isn't as strong, but if the market is in an enclosed area… be prepared when you get to the meat section (more so if it is a hot day).
There are grocery stores of course in Ecuador. Mega Maxi is a huge grocery/department store (like a Wal-mart) located in Quito, Ecuador. Prices aren't even comparable with Mega Maxi and open market. Prices are much more in an established grocery store but safety in food quality is much better. Packaged and refrigerated unlike open markets. But I do believe that open markets have better variety in products such as fruits, vegetables and meats. Food and water safety is a concern here in Ecuador… in my next entry I will dedicate an entire blog to this subject and go in greater detail about this subject of safety concerns and personal experiences.
Portion of food. In nice restaurants the portion of food one receives is comparable to that in the United Stated. A real local restaurant or in open markets offer so much more food for your money. For example, in Riobamba, Ecuador a friend and I stopped in at a small local restaurant (usually a fix menu for breakfast and lunch) by a bus station to eat before our next bus arrived. For $2.50 each we got a drink, soup, chicken, rice, beans, and salad. This is also similar to open markets when eating there. Established restaurants are more money. Depending on the restaurant it will be around $6 to $9 and not as much food usually, but more variety. Safety as far as water purity and food handling is still questionable in all restaurants in Ecuador. Better to be safe than sorry.
In an Ecuadorian home chicken and rice is very common, simple meals. Coming from America I had to get use to smaller portions during meals, much smaller. Prepared meals consist of a lot of "loose foods" like porridges, soups and stews. The first few weeks I was consistently hungry after meals but I soon got use to portion size and the different foods. I have definitely weight but my body is now use to the portions and I feel full after these meals. Food quality can be controlled a little bit better when cooking at home because you can boil your water and know you are cleaning with clean water and meat is cooked through.
With so much food in Ecuador it is hard to not always have something to eat or snack on. Unless shopping in a grocery store, prices are very reasonable for food and meals. Though using caution is always a good practice to have.