Ecuador, on the South American Pacific coast and international equator line, values its diverse traditions and enjoys a great deal of self-sufficiency. Probably a majority of the population is self-employed, or works in the family shop, or makes a living in the informal economy. In Ecuador, you can eat the healthiest possible diet, so to name it, a high fat, low carb one, by simply buying produce from the street and local market. Really, the only reason to visit a supermarket is to (maybe) save time, get cleaner fruit & veg (maybe), or to buy particular packaged products.
Street produce offers incredible deals, due to absolutely no seller overheads. In markets, overflowing with tropical fruits, vegetables, nuts, meat, fish, spices and peppers, one can generally haggle and get the best deals on quantity (a dollar of anything is the usual minimum).
Two popular fast-food options are Fritada and Hornado, both usually found in the vicinity of very big pieces of pork. Fritada means fried in pork lard, while Hornado is slowly roasted. Lean meat is usually accompanied by a good amount of fat, or you can pick and choose pieces.
Avocado is traditionally served with these dishes, as are little yellow potato patties, and varieties of corn. If you look around, you can often find 4 or even 5 avocados for a dollar! There is almost nothing Ecuadorians eat in great quantities which isn’t produced within a couple of hours’ drive.
On the coast, coconuts are grown en masse. The result is seafood and meat stews cooked in coconut milk, called encocado, or a variety of vegetable soups based in coconut milk instead of water. Coconut bread, drink, desserts, and virgin oil products are widespread.
Foreigners in Ecuador are often shocked by the simplicity, abundance, and affordability of the national food culture. If you like seafood, visit the coast (or Galapagos Islands!) For meat and tubers: the Andes. For treats only found in the jungle: Ecuador’s Amazon region.