Eat well, recover well – Ecuadorian Cuisine helping families recover

Publié: 31 mai 2016 0:16 CET

María Cruz lives with 14 other families on a piece of land in the Los Cactus Park area of Manta, given to them by a relative.   They have all relocated there since the day after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador on April 16th, completely destroying their homes.

“When the earthquake began to happen, I was alone at home with my 1 year old grandson.  I was sitting on the bed and everything began to shake.  At first, I didn’t know what to do, but then I grabbed my grandson and ran out to the yard where my family was.  My house was between two large hotels, so I was afraid that they would topple over and crush us.”

María’s fear was well founded; once the earthquake was over and her relatives managed to get away from the house, they saw a hotel wall collapse onto their homes.  Despite having lost it all, her family is safe and doing well, and that’s what counts for María.

“The earthquake knocked out the power, and these lowlifes started to yell ‘Tsunami!  Tsunami!’ so we got as far away from there as we could.  When we returned in the morning, it turns out they went inside what was left of our house and took everything!”

María says she’s no longer sad, everyone is safe and together and that is what’s important.  María has a very honest and open smile.  She tells us that now there’s only one kitchen that has to be shared for all the cooking.  However, the popular opinion in her family is that María is the best cook.  From behind a hammock, María’s sister-in-law chimes in: “go on, ask her about her tapao arrecho recipe, she does it really well.”

María’s eyes light up and she proudly laughs.  This Ecuadorian dish has an interesting name, the same word means something different in almost each country across Latin America.

“For the tapao, you boil some green plantains, pork, beef, sausage, chicken and egg.  This makes a thick and tasty stew that provides a lot of energy.  You have to eat well to bounce back.  Even though we’re in some tough times right now, we’ve been able to get a good tapao going and we’ve all been able to eat.  With this kitchen kit from the Red Cross, I’ll be able to make even more food and it will taste better,” says María, as she laughs from the satisfaction of being considered the best cook in her family.