Class gets out at noon every day, and we spill out of the school to begin the search for lunch. All over town, small family-owned restaurants offer midday almuerzo ranging from $3-$5 and consisting of a glass of fresh juice, a bowl of soup, and a plate of food. The soup usually features mysterious pieces of chicken (occasionally feet) or fish, potato, corn, cheese, yuca, and carrot, in various combinations, and the segundo, or second course, is usually rice and fish or some sort of meat. Those who aren’t in the mood for another heap of rice can search through the abundance of “minitiendas” around town for avocados, crackers, and bananas, or they can just wait at school for the ice cream cart or the empanada lady to show up at the beach across the street. I’m fond of almuerzo for several reasons: it’s a huge amount of food for $3, you can dump a huge amount of ají (hot sauce found on every table) on top of it, and I like the home-cooking atmosphere. You’ll be hard pressed to find a menu on this island during lunch time, but instead you simply sit down at a restaurant and are automatically served the day’s almuerzo. I think this lack of options actually makes the meal more enjoyable; the indecision brought on by extensive menus only causes anxiety and leaves you glancing enviously at your friends’ plates, kicking yourself for not choosing the fettuccine alfredo. My main complaint about the food here is that it’s extremely oily, but when it’s not fried in massive amounts of oil I find it quite satisfying.
If there’s one thing I miss about food at home it’s vegetables. There is some fruit grown here in the highlands, like watermelon, limes, and oranges, but most produce must be imported from the mainland and fresh vegetables are hard to come by. Sometimes I’m served a salad of red onions and tomato and cucumber, but it’s definitely not kale freshly picked from the garden. The food of the Galapagos is often tasty and filling, but I don’t think I’ll be eating fish or rice for a while when I go home. Bring on the leafy greens!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Grace is a junior at Connecticut College with a major in botany. She grew up on the coast of Maine and looks forward to leaving its harsh winter for the equatorial Galapagos Islands. Grace’s interests include paleontology, backpacking, folk music, and fermented foods. Join her as she heads to Ecuador for the semester!</span></p>