Urgent break

Hi all, I need to take an urgent break from Locally Foreign – my mother’s health outlook is poor and I’m going to go spend time with her. I’ll pick up where I left off when I can – thank you all for reading and following along.

– Kate

ECUADOR: Chaulafan de pollo

Ecuador has a large and long-established Chinese community, and there are several Ecuadorian dishes that have a distinct Chinese influence or origin. Most notable is chaulafan de pollo.

The name “chaulafan” comes from the Chinese word for fried rice – chao fan (chǎofàn in Mandarin, and caau faan in Cantonese). This is total speculation, but I bet the “la” comes from the Chinese word for “spicy”, since this dish is normally served with hot sauce.

I’m using this recipe from Laylita’s Recipes – she’s become my go-to for Ecuadorian recipes. Chaulafan is generally pretty similar to other fried rice recipes you might find, though there’s a few distinctly Latin American ingredients – especially Worcestershire sauce and adding raisins. I’m a little skeptical on the raisins, but they’re a common addition for savoury meat dishes (see Chilean empanadas), so I’ll roll with it.

First of all, this recipe makes a HUGE amount of food – your meal prep for the week is taken care of. Cooking the rice in broth adds a lot of flavour, as well as using pancetta, Worcestershire, and soy sauce (if you’re on a low-sodium diet, try something else). The raisins actually work pretty well – they add a bit of sweetness that actually blends in nicely.

I later tried it with a bit of the tamarillo aji as suggested. I was expecting it to be too many competing flavours at the same time, but it was a nice balance – savoury and meaty rice with a sour and sweet sauce, and everything mildly spicy.

The spread of Chinese cuisine around the world with the Chinese diaspora is an interesting story in its own right – a dish as simple as fried rice has many local twists. If you’d like another local twist on Chinese fried rice, check out the Nauruan spam fried rice from last year.

ECUADOR: Nicolá Cruz – Colibria

A bit of Bjork, a bit of traditional South American vibes, and a lot of cool atmosphere from Ecuadorian DJ and musician Nicolá Cruz. There’s a great interview with him about his music, the creative process, and incorporating other sounds from the Global South.

Also, enjoy some smooth “Andean step” with Cumbia Del Olvido:

And if that tickles your fancy, here’s an hour-long set of his with some really slick downtempo electronic music:

ECUADOR: Aji de tomate de arbol

Freshly made aji is a staple on Ecuadorian tables – it’s fresh hot sauce, often made with tart fruit. There’s a lot of variations, like a straighforward aji criollo with green hot peppers and garlic, aji de maracuya with passion fruit, and aji de tomate de arbol – made with tamarillos.

Tamarillos are a South American fruit sometimes called a tree tomato, though they don’t really taste like one – they have a fresh tartness that’s more like passionfruit or citrus. They’re sweet enough to eat straight, but also refreshingly sour. There are two varieties, yellow and red – mainly from the colour of the inside pulp, though I’m not sure if they have different flavours.

The recipe is from Laylita’s Recipes – a great Ecuadorian food site. She uses yellow tamarillos, I could only find red ones. While the recipe suggests less-spicy peppers, why make a hot sauce without any heat? I blended in an un-seeded yellow habanero. I did also find chochos (lupini beans) to add to this sauce – the recipe site suggests adding them is a regional favourite in Quito.

The red tamarillos pulped up to a beautiful burgundy – my phone captures it a bit more red. It’s wonderfully tart and fresh, sweet and acidic and punchy, with a nice background noise of heat. This could really go with all kinds of dishes, basically anything that would go with citrus. I’m going to serve this alongside a few other Ecuadorian dishes I’m planning to make, but I had a bit over the remaining beans and it was fantastic.

I did have to go back and correct “tomatillos” to “tamarillos” about three times while writing this, however.

ECUADOR: The many, many wars between Ecuador and Peru

I’m still wrapping my head around the scope of Ecuadorian history – as much as I love history, South America is a huge blind spot in my knowledge. In grade school we did a cursory study of Brazil (the BRIC countries were big as a concept then), but almost zero on the Spanish-speaking countries.

One of the things I’m learning is that there have been many wars between neighbouring countries – Chile’s successful war against Peru and Bolivia that left the latter landlocked, for example. However, Ecuador and Peru take the cake – they were actively disputing a border for almost 200 years, even before either were independent from Spain, and have had multiple wars over that time (mostly resulting in Ecuador losing territory).

Ecuador’s modern borders, and the disputed territory now belonging to Peru – Source

The first round was part of the larger internecine wars in the early 1800s between the newly independent countries that followed the wars for independence from Spain – Ecuador was a main battleground in the Gran Colombia-Peru War in 1828-29, which included the shelling of Guayaquil (being a large valuable port city, it’s been fought over a LOT).

After Bolivar and Gran Colombia eventually failed, as one of the successor states, Ecuador tried to settle its share of debts from the War of Independence from Spain. British creditors were given rights to Ecuadorian territory, but that included land in the Amazon basin contested with Peru. So, from 1857-60, there was another war between the two countries, but still no resolution on the border.

Things simmered for a century, until in 1941, things boiled over again into another war. While the 1941 Ecuador-Peru War had nothing officially to do with WWII, it seemed to provide an opportunity for Peru to take advantage of global (particularly American) attention being elsewhere. Ecuador was routed and forced to cede its claims to much of the disputed territory.

Here’s a really good look at the war from the Time Ghost WWII channel (the same people who did The Great War), including a look at the fighting and diplomacy around the war:

Ecuador and Peru’s border disputes continued through the 20th century, with two more small wars – the Paquisha War in 1981 and the Cenepa War in 1995. Here’s a military-focused look at the Cenepa War for additional context:

A peace deal and final settlement of the border between Ecuador and Peru was brokered in 1998 and so far, it has held. Optimistically, Peru and Ecuador sorted out their maritime boundaries peacefully in 2011, have signed bilateral trade deals, started to interconnect their electrical infrastructure, and have pretty positive relations.

ECUADOR: Project Isabela and the Judas Goat

So the video below is really entertaining but frames Project Isabela as a ridiculous human-animal war like the Australian Emu War of legend, but really, it’s more like Australia’s attempts to stop invasive species like cane toads or rabbits, or New Zealand’s war on land predators. However, unlike in the Antipodes, this project has actually been quite successful.

Goats had been introduced into the Galapagos Islands a few centuries ago, and were so successful that they were consuming all the plant life needed for native species like the Galapagos Tortoise – the ecological devastation was so severe that the tortoise was near extinction in the late 20th century. However, using extreme prejudice (sharpshooters in helicopters) and tricks like Judas Goats, the Ecuadorian government was able to eradicate the goats and work on restoring the natural habitat.

Here’s a bit more serious look at the same from the BBC, including comments from Ecuadorean conservationists. (Warning – video shows goats being shot).

Unsurprisingly, shooting down thousands and thousands of animals, even if an invasive species, was controversial. However, it was successful – in 2006, the Galapagos Islands were declared free of all large introduced mammals that were threatening the native wildlife: goats, pigs, and donkeys.

ECUADOR: Clowning around in office

A few years back in 2015, comedian John Oliver got into a ridiculous spat with the President of Ecuador at the time, Rafael Correa. Correa’s extended, personal state of the nation addresses were not unique – Hugo Chavez pioneered them, but Correa’s were noteable for the President doxxing individual trolls on Twitter.

“The President of Ecuador has been shit-talking me on Twitter all week long.”

However, what really ticked off most Ecuadorians was the trash talk around Tiko Tiko, a beloved children’s entertainer and clown.

“It can’t be that international TV makes fun of such a prominent person … poor Tiko Tiko!” – Ecuadorian Tweet

BBC News: “Ecuadorians leap to clown’s defence after John Oliver skit”

From the comments, it seems Tiko Tiko’s solar system song holds the same place in people’s hearts as the Animaniacs’ Country Song does in North America.

As time is a flat circle, Tiko Tiko, aka Ernesto Huertas Carrillo, unsuccessfully ran for office in 2016 for the Socialist Party. He did register sans makeup, but petitioned to run under his stage name. I can’t guarantee the auto-translated auto-captioned subtitles are even remotely correct, but there’s something to do with aliens.