Jul 252018

Guayaquil (now in Ecuador), celebrates its founding on this date although the first Spanish colony was established here on August 14th, 1534 by Francisco Pizarro. Because of internal strife, the colony had to be abandoned and was re-founded on July 25th in 1538 by Conquistador Francisco de Orellana (a close friend, a possibly relative, of Pizarro) with the name Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de Guayaquil (Most Noble and Most Loyal City of St. James of Guayaquil). Guayaquil uses this date for its foundation, rather than August 14th because the second foundation is the one which stuck. Even before Guayaquil was founded by the Spanish, it already existed as an indigenous village. The name Spanish name Santiago comes from the fact that today is the feast of St James: https://www.bookofdaystales.com/st-james-the-greater/ It is also the feast of St Christopher https://www.bookofdaystales.com/saint-christopher/ but because James is the patron of Spain, his feast takes precedence in regions that were Spanish colonies.

Before the region around Guayaquil was colonized by Spaniards it was a significant center for Huancavilca culture (Manteño in Spanish). The Huancavilca primarily grew fruits and vegetables, such as maize, yucca, peanuts, tomatoes, peppers, pineapples, and squashes. They also got significant protein from fishing and hunting, but they specialized in diving for Spondylus, a bivalve known in English as the spiny oyster (though it is not an oyster). Diving for Spondylus is highly specialized. They were used for food, and the shells were used for currency and as trade items. Shells harvested by the Huancavilca have been found as far north as Mexico. There is an interesting case of convergent cultural evolution here because as early as the Neolithic in Europe, Spondylus shells were being harvested in the Aegean and traded to make beads and other jewelry. The Huancavilca also made distinctive pottery for domestic and ritual purposes. The Inca never conquered the Huancavilca, but they prized their shells as valuable trade items. A significant percentage of the current population of Guayaquil traces its ancestry to the Huancavilca.

Guayaquil is supposedly named for the semi-legendary husband and wife Guayas and Quiles. When Sebastián de Belalcázar was dispatched by Pizarro to conquer the Indian peoples of the Ecuadorian coast, he encountered a brave chief of the Huancavilcas named Guayas who refused to surrender. His wife Quiles was a beautiful and courageous woman warrior who resisted also. One day, however, the two were captured by the Spaniards. Guayas offered to lead Belalcázar and his men all his treasures in exchange for his life and that of his wife. Guayas and Quiles led the soldiers to the hill – today called the Santa Ana´s hill – where the Huancavilca treasure was hidden. Here Guayas borrowed a knife to lift the stone covering the entrance to the hidden treasures. But instead of taking out gold and precious stones, Guayas killed Quiles, then killed himself, both preferring to die rather than as subject people. Guayaquil is purported to be a combination of their two names.

In 1687, Guayaquil was attacked and looted by English and French pirates under the command of George d’Hout (English) and Picard and Groniet (Frenchmen). Of the more than 260 pirates, 35 died and 46 were wounded; 75 defenders of the city died and more than 100 were wounded. In 1709, the English captains Woodes Rogers, Etienne Courtney, and William Dampier, along with a crew of 110, looted Guayaquil and demanded ransom. However, they suddenly departed without collecting the ransom after an epidemic of yellow fever broke out.

On October 9th, 1820, almost without bloodshed, a group of civilians, supported by soldiers from the “Granaderos de Reserva”, a battalion quartered in Guayaquil, overwhelmed the resistance of the Royalist guards and arrested the Spanish authorities. Guayaquil declared independence from Spain, becoming Provincia Libre de Guayaquil, and José Joaquín de Olmedo was named Jefe Civil (Civilian Chief) of Guayaquil. This would prove to be a key victory for the Ecuadorian War of Independence. On July 26, 1822, José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar held a famous conference in Guayaquil to plan for the independence of Spanish South America. In 1829, the city was invaded by the Peruvian Army, which occupied it for seven months.

In 1860, the city was the site of the Battle of Guayaquil, the last of a series of military conflicts between the forces of the Provisional Government, led by Gabriel García Moreno and General Juan José Flores, and the forces of the Supreme Chief of Guayas, General Guillermo Franco, whose government was recognized as having sovereignty over the Ecuadorian territory by Peruvian president Ramón Castilla.

On July 8th, 1898, the Guayaquil City Hall “Muy Ilustre Municipalidad de Guayaquil” officially recognized the anthem written by José Joaquín de Olmedo in 1821, with the music composed by Ana Villamil Ycaza in 1895, as the “Himno al 9 de Octubre” Canción al Nueve de Octubre, most widely known now as the “Himno a Guayaquil” (Guayaquil Anthem).

Typical Guayaquil cuisine includes mostly seafood dishes such as encebollado and ceviche (marinated with tomato juice as well as lime juice). The most traditional dish of Guayaquil, however, is arroz con menestra y carne asada (rice with lentil stew and grilled beef).  Menestra can be eaten by itself, and is very common in Ecuador. Aliño is a combination of flavorings in vinegar used as both a marinade and as a flavoring ingredient. In this dish it is used both in the menestra and as a meat marinade. I give one recipe at the end, but there are dozens. You can make the diced tomato, pepper, and onion for the menestra into a chunky sofrito by using a food processor on them if you would like. You really should use a charcoal or wood asado for the meat, but a regular grill will do at a pinch.

Arroz con Menestra y Carne Asada

For the menestra:


2 tbsp oil infused with achiote
1 tbsp aliño (see below)
1 small tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
1 small pepper, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, peeled and diced
2 cups of lentils, soaked overnight and drained
4 cups water
salt and pepper
1 tbps chopped fresh cilantro


In a large pot, heat the oil and add the aliño. Sauté for about three minutes. Add the diced tomato, pepper and onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Add the lentils and the water plus salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the lentils are tender. Timing will vary considerably depending on the type of lentils. Check the liquid level from time to time, and add more water if the lentils start to get too dry.  When the lentils are cooked, add the chopped cilantro and stir. Remove from the heat.

For the Carne Asada:


lemon juice
flank steaks


Rub the aliño on both sides of the steaks. Sprinkle with lemon juice, cover with food wrap, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Grill, with the marinade still on the steaks, according to your preference.

Serve the lentils and carne asada with plain boiled rice.



1 cup peeled orange segments.
½ cup walnuts soaked for 3 hours.
½ cup water
1 ½ tbsp cider vinegar.
2 ½ tbsp chopped raw ginger.
½ garlic clove, chopped
sea salt


Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you have a mixture of small chunks.

Jul 162017

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá, the first Franciscan mission in the Californias (province of New Spain), was founded on this date in 1769 by Spanish friar Junípero Serra in an area long inhabited by the Kumeyaay people. The mission, of course, eventually developed into the city of San Diego. The original Spanish settlement at the Kumeyaay’s Nipawai was within the general area occupied during the late Paleoindian period and continuing on into the present day by the Indian group known as the Diegueño to the Spanish, a name denoting that the people  were served by the padres at Mission San Diego de Alcalá. In comparison with other Californian Indians a fair amount is known about the Kumeyaay prior to the establishment of the mission thanks in large part to the records of the Spanish explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who documented his observations of life in the coastal villages he encountered along the Southern California coast in October 1542. Cabrillo, a Portuguese navigator in the service of Spain, is credited with the Spanish discovery of San Diego Bay. On the evening of September 28, 1542 the ships San Salvador and Victoria sailed into the harbor, whereupon Cabrillo christened it “San Miguel.” During that expedition a landing party went ashore and briefly interacted with a small group of local people.

About 60 years later another Spanish explorer, Sebastián Vizcaíno, made landfall around 10 miles from the present Mission site. Under Vizcaíno’s command the San Diego, Santo Tomás, and frigate Tres Reyes dropped anchor on November 10, 1602, and the port was renamed San Diego de Alcalá. It was another 167 years before the Spanish returned to San Diego. The kingdom of Spain had been moderately interested in adding to its colonies in Mexico, however, it was not until 1741—the time of the Vitus Bering expedition, when the territorial ambitions of tsarist Russia towards North America became known—that King Philip V of Spain felt that Spanish colonies were necessary in Upper California, and so Franciscans (and troops) gradually migrated north, eventually colonizing the West to the Rockies. This ought to be a powerful reminder to “patriotic” denizens of the United States in the modern era, that until the treaty of Gudalupe Hidalgo in 1848 which concluded the Mexican-American War, (https://www.bookofdaystales.com/treaty-of-guadalupe-hidalgo/ ), the whole western third of the current continental United States was owned by Mexico, and that English-speaking peoples there are the immigrants (of course, from an Indian perspective, so are the Spanish-speaking peoples).

In May 1769, Gaspar de Portolà had established the Fort Presidio of San Diego on a hill near the San Diego River. This was actually the first settlement by Europeans in what is now the state of California. Then in July Mission San Diego de Alcalá was founded by Franciscan friars under Junípero Serra. By 1797, the mission had the largest Indian population in Alta California, with over 1,400 neophytes living in and around the mission proper. Mission San Diego was the southern anchor in California of the historic mission trail El Camino Real.

In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain, and San Diego became part of the Mexican territory of Alta California. In 1822, Mexico began attempting to extend its authority over the coastal territory of Alta California. The fort on Presidio Hill was gradually abandoned, while the town of San Diego grew up on the level land below Presidio Hill. The Mission was secularized by the Mexican government in 1833, and most of the Mission lands were sold to wealthy Californio settlers. The 432 residents of the town petitioned the governor to form a pueblo, and Juan María Osuna was elected the first alcalde, defeating Pío Pico in the vote. However, San Diego had been losing population throughout the 1830s and in 1838 the town lost its pueblo status because its size dropped to an estimated 100 to 150 residents. It was not until after 1848, when Alta California became part of the United States that San Diego started growing again.

Carne asada fries seems like a fitting dish for today. It was invented in the 1990s by Lolita’s Mexican Food in San Diego, inspired by a suggestion from their tortilla distributor. It’s a suitably bastardized Mexican-American dish that is popular in and around the San Diego region. It can be made in a number of ways, but the basics are fries on the bottom topped with chopped carne asada, guacamole, and shredded cheese with other ingredients added as the cook desires.

You don’t need a strict recipe. Use about 1½ pounds of carne asada to 2 pounds of freshly cooked French fries. Chop the meat coarsely and spread over the French fries. Cover with grated cotija cheese (or other good melting cheese), and place under a grill to melt. Garnish with sour cream, guacamole, and whatever else you want – such as chopped tomatoes and pico de gallo.