Field Notes

Lindsay N. Green-Barber, Ph.D.
Here, there, everywhere.

Easter in Ecuador: There is no bunny, but there are guinea pigs

Easter in a Catholic country is not a Sunday event with hats, patent leather shoes, egg hunts, and a bunny that magically visits every child leaving sweet treats and socks (or was that just the Easter bunny in the G-B home?).  Instead, it is a week long event replete with yummy foods and full-fledged no-work holidays.  Oh, and who knew there were enough movies (both with actors and animated) about God, Jesús, and the Bible to fill three days of air time without pause?  There´s nothing quite like the story of Noah´s ark dubbed in español.

In Ecuador, Semana Santa (Holy Week) begins on the Sunday before Easter.  Monday through Thursday there are various events at churches and anticipation builds for the big weekend.  Good Friday, or Viernes Santo, is a national holiday.  While this is not unique to Ecuador, Fanesca is.  Fanesca is a soup made of 12 grains (to represent the 12 apostles) and bacalao (dried fish).  Every family has their own recipe, although most have a base that includes cream or milk.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to spend Viernes Santo with a family here in Quito and was able to sample their own delicious version of Fanesca, as well as those of all of their neighbors.  The tradition is to bring an ample serving of your Fanesca to all of your neighbors - typical of the communal fashion of eating and drinking here.

Sunday, the big day, is not met with baskets and egg hunts, but instead benediciones.  In each home, every member receives a blessing from every older member of the household.  The blessings start with all of the things the older family member thinks you need to ask repentence, and continues with a blessing for the coming year.  And then, bring on the meat!

During Semana Santa there should be no meat, although this seemed to be followed most strictly on Good Friday.  Here in Ecuador, parrilladas, or barbeques, are a typical way for families to celebrate Easter Sunday with heaping portions of red meat, chicken, chorizos (sausages), and yes, cuy (guinea pig).  As a guest in the Easter festivities, I was invited to be the grill-master.  I am happy to say I successfully grilled the meat, including the 3 quartered cuyes.  While I know some are saying, ¨Lindsay, did you really grill and then eat guinea pig?¨ and my mom is saying, ¨but don´t you remember Goldilocks?¨ (Laurel´s pet guinea pig from childhood), please, I beg of you, don´t knock it ´til you´ve tried it!  The fresh grilled cuy was one of the more scrumptious meats I´ve ever had the pleasure of feasting upon.  The only thing missing were peanut butter Reese´s eggs…

  • 4 May 2011