here’s the second part of my top 20 photos of 2013 thing. if you’re new here, all of them were taken in ecuador where i lived from august 2012-september 2013. these are my favorites because they’re attached to good memories and saturated in natural, heavy hues. they don’t represent a balanced look at my year, the majority of which was spent in front of a laptop surrounded by a million people in a grungy apartment. since i was undocumented most of my time there (working on getting my papers through my mom’s citizenship) i couldn’t leave the country. staying put was tough for me – a year may not seem like a lot to most folks – but ecuador is an awesome country to be stuck in. though i was hungry and had zero cents most of the time, i eventually started getting published, got my papers and had mad adventures. so fuck yeah.
on january first, 2013, i woke up on a couch in quito, ecuador. i was a newbie writer, newly illegal, completely broke and with nowhere to live. i won’t pretend to have had any epiphanies. like life, it was fucked up and awesome all at once, and not a ton has changed, except for me. probably.
i chased stories: through valleys, up volcanoes, across lakes, down jungle rivers, on beautiful beaches, into the pacific. spent the rest stoned in hammocks, swinging on ziplines, sleeping on floors, drunk in bars, dancing at shows, camping alone, touring hospital emergency rooms, talking to strangers, doing nothing, and writing everything down.
it all seems like someone else’s life right now: working full-time hours on a saturday night back in my hometown, watching a snowstorm freeze new york city outside the glass doors. i’m going through all my photos from this past year, and thought i’d compile the best of them into one of those top ten lists i’m always complaining about. it’s a two-parter.
are you a creative-type bum like me? share in the comments the best and worst times you had in 2013!
it’s been forever! or at least around two months since i’ve written here. in the meantimes i had surgery, moved to new york from ecuador after a year of living there and watched my money troubles worsen. had to take a break from writing while my shoulder recuperated and tried to adapt to living in the states again. it’s been weird.
but it’s a good time to work on my zine (everywhere all the time twooo) and hopefully have it out by next week. it’ll be 32 pages, quarter-sized, black and white and typewritten (and available on etsy at my shop, where you could order issue one for $2 & free shipping). i’ll scan copies while it’s in progress and post them here, on facebook and the tumblr page along with photos and stories from the zine and probably some scans of the first issue. this one will be legible though!
Ecuador + Food = My Life (& this article, originally published over at Epicure & Culture. One of the best blogs out there!)
Ecuadorian cuisine is all about slowing down and savoring each bite, enjoying the company of close ones and our gifted settings. Growing up Ecuadorian in New York, opting to sit separately from the family table during meals meant not eating. We had to dine together, down each and every last flavorful crumb and never forget to compliment the chef, who in this case was my abuelita. Gratitude. Community. Culture. Food kept us connected to our roots from thousands of miles away: It wasn’t optional.
My respect for the cultural richness of Ecuador‘s gastronomy only deepened when I moved to Quito last year, a sprawling old city staring the sun right in the face by day and flooded by a cumulus mist come evening. The country’s contrasting regions – coast, Sierra and Amazon – lend themselves to a diverse, healthy and colorful cuisine that comes out decadent through Quito’s cosmopolitan lens, and global foodies are beginning to take notice. Take a visual tour of the food in Ecuador with these six encompassing courses and you’ll be booking a ticket to the ‘middle of the world’ in no time.
Quinoa Salad. Photo courtesy of Lablascovegmenu.
The United Nations has designated 2013 “the year of quinoa,” a super food so packed with protein NASA makes their astronauts consume it. But before quinoa’s international status as the epitome of healthy eating boomed, it was a dietary staple consumed by the indigenous of the Andes for over 6,000 years. The chewy grains take on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked in, so recipes reach as far as your imagination can take you.
Many eclectic indigenous communities speckle Ecuador’s diversified terrain, but the majority are counted amongst the Kichwas – a sect of the Quechua diaspora that live along the Andes. A divergent Kichwa identity exists where Ecuador’s mountainous slopes collide into the doorways of the Amazon in the East, and it’s evident that the jungle’s lively nature influences their culture. Flavors here are local, fresh and fierce, with the most exemplary fare known as maito, meaning ‘wrap’ in Kichwa. Women slow-steam fish — usually tilapia or the native carachaza — with cassava and hearts of palm in bijao leaves over charcoal. The fragrance of these banana-like leaves permeates the dish, enticing and overcoming the senses.
Quimbolito. Photo courtesy of Bani Amor.
The Quimbolito is a dessert native to the Sierra region that’s also steamed, although this time in taro leaves. The spongy pocket is made from corn flour, orange juice, vanilla essence and a generous helping of margarine punched into dough that’s sprinkled with raisins before being sealed and steamed. Like many Ecuadorian sweets, it is consumed more as a snack or pastry than after meals, perfectly paired with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. The term ‘comfort food’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Ceviche Mixto. Photo courtesy of Patcito.
I’ll flat out admit total bias – Ecuador’s take on ceviche is the best. The seafood dish can be found all over Latin America, but preparation is what really matters here. In a ceviche mixto, anything from shrimp and sea bass to mahi-mahi and black clams are soaked in a marinade of lime juice, tomato, cilantro, and red and green peppers for hours, lending the mariscos a gummy texture and sweet, tangy flavor. It’s usually topped with fried plantains or tostado, crunchy corn grains fried to perfection.
Guatita is a coastal dish made from tripe, meticulously scrubbed with lemon brine and stewed with potatoes in a peanut butter sauce until tender. It’s traditionally served piping hot with rice and a salad of purple cabbage on Sunday mornings. Tip: Guatita is an epic hangover cure.
Sipping Canelazo in Banos, Ecuador, about 180 kilometers outside of Quito. Photo courtesy offabulousfabs.
The welcoming drink of the Ecuadorian Andes is a traditional glass of canelazo, an infusion of naranjilla juice and sugarcane liquor served hot to newcomers not yet acclimated to the heights. A strong, sweet cup of canelazo serves as an elixir for anyone suffering the effects of altitude sickness – or plain epicurean thirst. Brewed with cinnamon, clove and vanilla, the anise-flavored alcohol — known as punta — takes on an entirely different body, sliding down the throat like candied velvet.
it’s all happening. if you haven’t seen almost famous, you’ve missed the ref. (and what’s up with you anyway? go see almost famous!) this past weekend i made a TON of headway in the Zine World and should be done this week, but y’all know i’ve been making that promise since december (major thanks to all the folks who’ve ordered and been super patient.)
basically, and this’ll make sense to other (newbie) zine writers out there, it took me so long to get the layout in order ’cause i’m shitty with numbers and all that stuff, and when i finally had the cash to get the base mother copy copied, the dude flipped the pages around and messed up the layout. also, part of my typewriter was melted in a house fire, so using it became an EXTREME pain in the ass, and that’s in addition to all the other analog issues it already has. again, other typewriter users will know what i’m sayin’.
so, started from scratch, using my photocopied images, some new ones, vellum, contact paper, graph paper and copies of sketches. i made (er, am making) the mother copy as it would appear in it’s final form, then will lay it out on pages for photocopy time. either zinemaking is more difficult than others seem to lead on or, i’m a dumbass.
i’ve taken out a lot of stuff, added in new stories and am trying to make it a good looking read overall. so if you haven’t ordered, please do! you can skim the Freestyle section of this site to get a feel for the kinda stories the zine carries. if $10 is too much for you, we can work out a reduced rate with trade, or just a reduced rate. i’m into all sorts of exchanges. free shipping to anywhere in the world!
it’s very exciting to see this thing finally being born, like for reals this time.
Hey kids,thanks to the over 500 folks who follow this thing. i’m all packed and moving to the coast, if all goes well with my Ecuadorian citizenship. cross your fingers for me. here’s my latest article on Viator’s Travel Blog – Ecuador: South America’s New Adventure Capital.