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.

Dec 062016


Quito, current capital of Ecuador, was moved to its present location and re-founded on this date in 1534 by 204 Spanish settlers led by Sebastián de Benalcázar. If that sounds complicated, it is. Let me explain.

Quito’s origins are reputed to date back to the first millennium CE, when the indigenous Quitu occupied the area and eventually formed a commercial center. According to Juan de Velasco in Historia del Reino de Quito (1767) the Quitu were conquered by the Caras, who founded the Kingdom of Quito about 980 CE. For more than four centuries, Quito was ruled by kings (shyris).

The Caras and their allies were narrowly defeated in the epic battles of Tiocajas and Tixán in 1462, by an army of 250,000 led by Túpac Inca, the son of the Inca emperor. After several decades of consolidation, the Kingdom of Quito became integrated into the Incan Empire. In 1534, the Caras/Quitu people were conquered by the Spanish.


Indigenous resistance to the Spanish invasion continued during 1534, with the conquistador Diego de Almagro founding Santiago de Quito (in present-day Colta, near Riobamba) on August 15, 1534, later to be renamed San Francisco de Quito on August 28, 1534. The city was later moved to its present location and was re-founded on 6 December 1534 by 204 settlers led by Sebastián de Benalcázar. The forces of the Inca resistance general, Rumiñawi, and Benalcázar met at the Battle of Mount Chimborazo, where Rumiñawi was defeated. However, before the Spanish forces defeated the Incas, treasures stored in Quito were secreted away and never recovered. The capture of Rumiñawi effectively ended any organized resistance. Rumiñawi was tortured by the Spanish, but never revealed the location of the treasures and so was executed on January 10, 1535. Rumiñawi is now regarded in Ecuador as a hero with 1st December reserved in his honor.


On March 14, 1541, Quito was declared a city and on February 14, 1556, was given the title Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de San Francisco de Quito (“Very Noble and Loyal City of San Francisco of Quito”). In 1563, Quito became the seat of a Real Audiencia (administrative district) of Spain and became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, until 1717 after the Audiencia was part of a newly created Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada. Its administration on both Viceroyalties remained to Quito. (see Real Audiencia de Quito)

As with other places colonized by the Spanish, the colonizers promptly established Roman Catholicism in Quito. The first church (El Belén) was in fact built even before the city had been officially founded. In January 1535, the San Francisco Convent was constructed, the first of about 20 churches and convents built during the colonial period. The Spanish converted the indigenous population to Christianity and used them as labor for construction.


In 1743, after nearly 300 years of Spanish colonization, Quito was a city of about 10,000 inhabitants. On August 10, 1809, an independence movement against Spanish domination started in Quito. On that date, a plan for government was established that placed Juan Pío Montúfar as president with various other prominent figures in other positions of government. However, this initial movement was ultimately defeated on August 2, 1810, when colonial troops came from Lima, killing the leaders of the uprising along with about 200 settlers. A chain of conflicts concluded on May 24, 1822, when Antonio José de Sucre, under the command of Simón Bolívar, led troops into the Battle of Pichincha. Their victory marked the independence of Quito and the surrounding areas.


Ecuadorean cuisine has many variations because of the extreme range in geographical zones, especially as concerns altitude, which dramatically affects farming conditions. Goat is popular in the mountainous regions, and seco de chivo (goat stew) is a common festival dish. The poaching liquid was traditionally chicha, a mildly alcoholic, fermented corn drink, and tart fruit juices were added as well. Naranjilla, guanábana, and granadilla, are indigenous, but any tart juice will make an adequate substitute. Locals now often use beer in place of the chicha. Piloncillo (or panela) is unrefined brown sugar in a hard block.


Seco de Chivo


2 lb goat meat, with bones
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp achiote powder (or sweet paprika)
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cups seeded and chopped tomatoes
2 cups chicha de jora (or beer)
2 cups tart fruit juice (or stock)
2 tbsp grated piloncillo (or brown sugar)
salt and pepper
small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped


Wash the goat meat in cool water, drain and pat dry. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides in the hot oil. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add more oil to the pot if needed and stir the achoite powder (or paprika) to color the oil. Stir in the onion and bell pepper and sauté  for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the onions are cooked down and translucent. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes.

Add back the reserved goat and stir in the chicha (or beer), fruit juice, piloncillo (or brown sugar) and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered for 2 or more hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Add water as necessary to keep the seco from drying out.

Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped cilantro. Serve hot with a side of arroz amarillo (rice colored yellow with turmeric or achiote), platanos fritos (fried plantains) and slices of avocado.