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.

Nov 152017

On this date in 1532 the conquistador Francisco Pizarro and 169 men (mostly soldiers) arrived in Cajamarca on the invitation of the Inca leader Atahualpa. A black day for the Inca. Atahualpa camped outside Cajamarca with an army of around 80,000 Inca and met Pizarro the following day. Atahualpa assumed, quite mistakenly, that his army of 80,000 had nothing to fear from 170 Spaniards.  Shows how wrong you can be. For Atahualpa it was a fatal mistake, costing him his life and the independence of the Inca people. The conquest of South America by Pizarro and later generals, and of Mesoamerica by Hernán Cortés and those who came after him, are enduring lessons of history. In the Old World, for centuries, massive armies pitted against one another for supremacy as empires rose and fell, but in the New World the all-powerful Inca and Aztec empires were toppled by a handful of men. How could this possibly have happened? One, over-simple, answer is that powerful empires can be conquered if they have internal divisions. The Inca and Aztec empires certainly were rife with internal power struggles at the time of the Spanish conquest. Both Pizarro and Cortés were astute in taking advantages of these rifts in the empires, and were treacherous into the bargain. Trusting their word was a big mistake. Having guns and horses was symbolically very important to the Spanish, but could not have tipped the balance in their grossly uneven contests. If you saw an army of 169, armed with guns, against one of 80,000, armed with spears and arrows, who would you bet on? I’d go with sheer numbers any day.


In January 1531, a Spanish expedition led by Francisco Pizarro, on a mission to conquer the Inca Empire, landed on Puná Island. Pizarro brought with him 169 men and 69 horses. The Spaniards headed south and occupied Tumbes, where they heard about the civil war that Atahualpa and his half-brother, Huáscar, were waging against each other. In September 1532, after reinforcements arrived from Spain, Pizarro founded the city of San Miguel de Piura, and then marched towards the heart of the Inca Empire, with a force of 106 foot-soldiers and 62 horsemen. Atahualpa, in Cajamarca with his army of 80,000 troops, heard that this party of strangers was advancing into the empire, and sent an Inca noble to investigate. The noble stayed for two days in the Spanish camp, making an assessment of the Spaniards’ weapons and horses. Atahualpa decided that 168 Spaniards were not a threat to him and his 80,000 troops, so he sent word inviting them to visit Cajamarca and meet him, expecting to capture them. Pizarro and his men thus advanced unopposed through some very difficult terrain. They arrived at Cajamarca on 15 November 1532.


Atahualpa and his army had camped on a hill just outside Cajamarca. He was staying in a building close to the Konoj hot springs, while his soldiers were in tents set up around him. When Pizarro arrived in Cajamarca, the town was mostly empty except for a few hundred acllas (sequestered virgins). The Spaniards were billeted in long buildings on the main plaza, and Pizarro sent an embassy to the Inca, led by Hernando de Soto. The group consisted of 15 horsemen and an interpreter; shortly thereafter de Soto sent 20 more horsemen as reinforcements in case of an Inca attack. These were led by his brother, Hernando Pizarro.

The Spaniards invited Atahualpa to visit Cajamarca to meet Pizarro, which he resolved to do the following day. Meanwhile, Pizarro was preparing an ambush to trap him. While the Spanish cavalry and infantry occupied three long buildings around the plaza, some musketeers and four pieces of artillery were located in a stone structure in the middle of the square. The plan was to persuade Atahualpa to submit to the authority of the Spaniards and, if this failed, there were two options: a surprise attack, if success seemed possible, or to keep up a friendly stance if the Inca forces appeared too powerful.

The following day, Atahualpa left his camp at midday, preceded by a large number of men in ceremonial attire. Because the procession was advancing slowly, Pizarro sent his brother Hernando to invite the Inca to enter Cajamarca before nightfall. Atahualpa entered the town late in the afternoon in a litter carried by eighty lords; with him were four other lords in litters and hammocks and 5–6,000 men carrying small battle axes, slings, and pouches of stones underneath their clothes. Juan Diez de Betanzos, who married Atahualpa’s wife after Atahualpa’s death recorded this eyewitness testimony:

He [Atahualpa] was very drunk from what he had imbibed in the [thermal] baths before leaving as well as what he had taken during the many stops on the road. In each of them he had drunk well. And even there on his litter he requested drink.

The Inca found no Spaniards in the plaza, as they were all inside the buildings. The only man to emerge was the Dominican friar Vincente de Valverde with an interpreter. Although there are different accounts as to what Valverde said, most agree that he invited Atahualpa to come inside to talk and dine with Pizarro. Atahualpa instead demanded the return of everything the Spaniards had taken since they landed. According to eyewitness accounts, Valverde spoke about the Catholic religion but did not deliver the official requerimiento, a speech requiring the listener to submit to the authority of the Spanish Crown and accept the Christian faith, as ordained by the Spanish Crown in 1513. This was actually a formal responsibility that would have excused Pizarro’s subsequent actions in the eyes of the Spanish government and the Catholic church if Atahualpa refused to submit.

At Atahualpa’s request, Valverde gave him his breviary but, after a brief examination, he threw it to the ground. Valverde hurried back toward Pizarro, calling on the Spaniards to attack. At that moment, Pizarro gave the signal; the Spanish infantry and cavalry came out of their hiding places and charged the unsuspecting Inca retinue, killing a great number while the rest fled in panic. Pizarro led the charge on Atahualpa, but captured him only after killing all those carrying him and turning over his litter. Not a single Spanish soldier was killed.

On 17 November the Spaniards sacked the Inca army camp, in which they found great treasures of gold, silver, and emeralds. Noticing their lust for precious metals, Atahualpa offered to fill a large room about 22 feet (6.7 m) long and 17 feet (5.2 m) wide up to a height of 8 feet (2.4 m) once with gold and twice with silver within two months. It is commonly believed that Atahualpa offered this ransom to regain his freedom, but he may have made the offer thinking it would save his life. None of the early chroniclers mentions any commitment by the Spaniards to free Atahualpa once the valuables were delivered.

After several months in fear of an imminent attack from general Rumiñahui, the outnumbered Spanish considered Atahualpa to be too much of a liability and decided to execute him. Pizarro staged a mock trial and found Atahualpa guilty of revolting against the Spanish (which was a fake accusation in the absence of the requerimiento), practicing idolatry, and murdering Huáscar, his half-brother. Atahualpa was sentenced to execution by burning. He was horrified, since the Inca believed that the soul would not be able to go on to the afterlife if the body were burned. Friar Vincente de Valverde, who had earlier offered his breviary to Atahualpa, intervened, telling Atahualpa that, if he agreed to convert to Catholicism, the friar could convince Pizarro to commute the sentence. Atahualpa agreed to be baptized into the Catholic faith. He was given the name Francisco Atahualpa in honor of Francisco Pizarro. In accordance with his request, he was executed by strangling with a garrote on 26 July 1533.

At 1:30 a.m. on 26 July 1533, Atahualpa was interrogated before his death by his Spanish captors about his birthplace. Atahualpa verbally declared that his birthplace is in what the Incas called the Kingdom of Quito, in a place called Caranqui (today located 2 km southeast of Ibarra, Ecuador). Most chroniclers suggest that Atahualpa was born in what the Incas used to call the Kingdom of Quito, though other stories suggest various other birthplaces. When questioned about his age Atahualpa answered, “We do not use this western way of calculating time; but I can tell you that my life has seen 31 harvests since I was born, thanks to my mother’s help in telling me of my beginnings.” Following his execution, his clothes and some of his skin were burned, and his remains were given a Christian burial. Atahualpa was succeeded by his brother, Túpac Huallpa, and later by another brother Manco Inca. The independence of the Inca was, however, for all intents and purposes over although there were still many battles in the future.

Pachamanca is an Inca dish with a long history that predates the Spanish conquest, but a version of it is made to this day with updated ingredients.  I’ll give you a video on how it’s made traditionally, followed by a recipe using a home kitchen.  The traditional recipe requires baking the meat and vegetables in a pit in the ground using heated rocks. This method yields incomparable results, but isn’t practical for the average household. Still if you want to give it a shot here’s the method. The commentary is in Spanish, but it’s not necessary to understand it. The recipe that follows fills in the details.

The word “pachamanca” comes from Quechua pacha “earth” and manka “pot” (that is, the ground is your cooking pot), which pretty much sums up the method. The earthen oven is known as a huatia, and these days the main ingredient is often pork, lamb, mutton, or chicken, but traditionally it would be guinea pig or perhaps llama. The meat is always marinated in spices, and this may present a problem outside the Andes. They give the meat a unique flavor that cannot be replicated. So, when I give you a home recipe it comes with a warning: this is nothing like traditional pachamanca. Other Andean produce, such as potato, green lima beans, sweet potato, cassava or yuca, and humitas, as well as ears of corn, tamale and chile can all be included in the baking at cook’s choice. You can cook this on the stove top or in the oven. Cooking times will vary according to your choice of meat. Chicken can cook in about an hour, pork in a bit longer, and lamb longer still.



2 kg meat of your choice (pork, lamb, chicken, guinea pig), cut into meal-sized portions
3 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into quarters
3 potatoes, scrubbed and cut into quarters
3 sweetcorn kernels
450 ml water
30 gm huacatay leaves (or cilantro), chopped
corn husks (optional)


200 gm ají panca paste (recipe below)
3 tbsp onion and garlic paste (recipe below)
15 gm cilantro leaves
2 tbsp dried oregano
40 ml white wine vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper


Mix all the marinade ingredients in a non-reactive bowl.

Marinate the meat and vegetables for 2 hours or longer in the refrigerator. (See my HINT tab). Marinating in a bowl will work will enough, but you have to keep turning the ingredients periodically.

Layer the ingredients in a large flameproof casserole dish as follows: the 450 ml of water, meat, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and corn kernels. Top with the chopped huacatay (or cilantro), and add the marinade.

Cover with the corn husks or a circle of baking paper, and cover tightly with a lid.

Cook over low heat on the stove top or in a 300˚F oven. Cooking time will be determined by the choice of meat (2 hours will work for most meats). Make sure the casserole is tightly sealed throughout.

Ají Panca Paste


250 gm dried ají panca chiles
60 ml white wine vinegar
375 gm caster sugar


Cut the chiles in half lengthways and remove the veins and seeds. Wash the chiles in water with a tablespoon of vinegar added. Repeat the washing several times, with fresh vinegar each time.

Leave the chiles to soak in cold water for 5 hours.

Drain the chiles and place in a saucepan, cover with water and add all the sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes.

Drain and then repeat the simmering process 5 times (but without sugar), changing the water each time.

Drain the chiles, place in a blender and blend to a smooth paste.

The paste can be refrigerated or frozen until ready to use.


Onion and Garlic Paste


90 ml sunflower oil
250 gm whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 kg onions, peeled and diced


Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over a medium heat. Add the whole garlic cloves and sauté until very lightly browned. Set the garlic aside.

Turn the heat under the skillet to low, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently until they are light brown.

Transfer the onions, garlic, and oil to a blender and blend to a purée. Leave to cool, then cover tightly and refrigerate or freeze until needed.

Jun 242013

inti raymi  inti raymi2

Today indigenous Inca throughout the Peruvian Andes celebrate Inti Raymi, the winter solstice.  I spend a certain amount of energy twice a year reminding people in the northern hemisphere that the southern hemisphere exists too, and that for us the June solstice is the shortest day of the year, harbinger of winter.  Inti Raymi is an ancient celebration of the sun god Inti, and is one of four major Inca seasonal festivals.  The pre-conquest ceremonies were described by Garcilaso de la Vega in Comentarios Reales de los Incas (Royal Chronicles of the Incas), published in Lisbon in 1609.

inti raymi4

Garcilasco de la Vega  was in a unique position to document the traditions of the Inca because he was born in the Inca capital, Cusco, of a Spanish aristocratic conquistador, and a royal Incan mother.  He was illegitimate and so lived with his mother, Palla Chimpu Ocllo (baptized as Isabel Suárez Chimpu Ocllo), for the first 10 years of his life.  She was the daughter of Túpac Huallpa and a granddaughter of the powerful Inca (ruler) Tupac Yupanqui. Garcilasco was, thus, a native speaker of both Quechua and Spanish, and grew up hearing about the traditions of the Inca from his mother.  When his father died, Garcilasco received an inheritance, and relocated to Spain at the age of 21 where he received a first rate Spanish education.

Garcilasco’s depictions of Inca life are invaluable, although highly colored.  He describes the Inca as a peaceful, loving people who are well-fed and happy.  There is no mention in his writings of the Inca practices of slavery and human sacrifice (and little about warfare except the wars with the Spanish).  It is not clear whether he deliberately avoided these subjects or whether he simply did not know about them. Certainly the commentaries are as accurate as can be expected given that he filtered his childhood memories through his Spanish heritage.  Comentarios Reales de los Incas was banned in Spain following the anti-colonial uprising of Tupac Amaru II, because it was perceived to be dangerous.  It was not published again in Spanish until 1918, and was not published in English in complete form until 1961. So, in the midst of our winter solstice revels let us also celebrate yet another unsung giant. I am a great fan of anyone whose works are banned.

Inti Raymi has often been described as a ritual to ensure the return of the sun by people with little or no knowledge of Garsilasco’s writings, nor of basic anthropological theory.  Contemporary, “scientific” Westerners have the bad habit of seeing ancient winter solstice ceremonies as magical superstition, practiced because they feared the sun would disappear if they did not make prayerful appeals.  This is ignorant nonsense.  The Inca were excellent astronomers and understood the movements of the sun (and moon) very well.  Inti Raymi was a joyous celebration of the life giving power of the sun and its god Inti.

The rituals of Inti Raymi fell into abeyance in post-colonial times, but were revived in 1944 in Cusco and the nearby historic site Sacsayhuaman, Inca temple to the sun.  The modern festival lasts one day only (today) in Sacsayhuaman, but goes on for an entire week in Cusco.  We do not know the precise date of the original Inca rituals, even though they survived briefly into colonial times. The conquistadores as part of their enforced Christianization of the Inca set the date of midsummer activities as 24 June, the Spanish midsummer.  The modern celebration can be seen in the photos above.  The original celebration was a two week affair.  First there were three days of fasting when no fires were lit, and sex was forbidden.  This period was followed by nine days of feasting and drinking.  The first day, which is what is now recreated, involved massive parades of soldiers in full war gear accompanying the Inca who delivered speeches to the sun and to the sacred coca leaf.

Inti Raymi was attended by people from across the Incan empire who brought foods representative of their native regions.  These were all eaten together as symbolic of the unity of the empire.  Nowadays this festal dish is recreated in plates of chiriuchu which can be bought from street vendors throughout Cusco during the festival.  There is no real recipe. It has base of corn with chopped guinea pig meat, llama or alpaca jerky, and sausage on top of that (sometimes with chicken as well). Next comes white cheese from the neighboring highlands, torreja (a crisp omelet with corn flour, compis potatoes, yellow squash, onion greens, and local spices). This mélange is all topped with seaweed and fish eggs from the coast, with a garnish of rocoto pepper at the apex. Good luck finding the ingredients to make this at home.  Just go to Cusco and enjoy it there. It is a huge plate of food because it is meant to be shared.

inti raymi3

I have struggled with finding a recipe suitable for the day because all indigenous Incan dishes have since been heavily influenced by Spanish ingredients and techniques (as well as well meaning foodies).  Here is a recipe of mine that does not do too much violence to traditional methods and ingredients.  Its base is the grain quinoa (pronounced KEEN-owah) which is becoming increasingly popular in the West because of its high protein content.  It can be found at health food stores and large supermarkets.  To cook it, rinse it thoroughly in cold water, then simmer it for about 15 minutes using 2 parts water to one part grain.  I am giving proportions in my recipe here rather than specific measurements just to be a bit more traditional and to give the cook some scope for variation. This type of salad is often served throughout Latin America as a side dish accompanying grilled meats.

Quinoa Salad


2 parts cooked quinoa
1 part cooked corn kernels
1 part cooked beans (black or pink add some color)
1 chopped tomato per 2 parts quinoa
2 chopped green onions per tomato
chopped cilantro to taste
chopped hot pepper to taste
fresh lemon juice to taste


Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, and chill well before serving. (Well, what did you expect!).