The traditional cuisine in the highlands of Imbabura is simple, local, and organic. People grow their own vegetables, collect berries in the wild, and keep chickens for meat and cows for milk and the occasional dried beef. Vegetables and dairy make up the larger part of the local diet, vegetable, barley or quinoa soups and stews on a chicken broth basis are very popular, and roast corn is always kept in every house. Guinea pigs are kept living in the kitchen as a ready source of meat.

A traditional holiday recipe is Fanesca — a stew made for Easter, or originally for the spring equinox.

This is how you make it, as described by one of our language consultants:

You go out into the garden and pick all kinds of vegetables, every vegetable you see. For example, this can include:

  • fresh pumpkin
  • lupine beans
  • fresh fava beans
  • fresh corn

You should end up with ten to fifteen kinds of vegetables.

You cook those vegetables in separate pots for two days. Then you peel off all the skin.

You make a broth from dried white bacalao fish which you also soak for at least two days. Then you drain it, take out the bones and set the fish aside from the broth.

You roast peanuts, garlic, onions and cilantro. Then you mix everything together, adding the fish and broth last.

Fanesca is served with avocado, tomato and boiled eggs on top and alongside small empanadas.