As I traveled around Ecuador, the food I saw most often, from Otavalo’s street markets (where I first tried one) to the restaurants of Quito, was the llapingacho (yop-in-GAH-cho), a potato and cheese cake with as many variations as there are people making them. It was common to see llapingachos on griddles next to fried eggs, a popular accompaniment, or offered with fried platanos or peanut sauce. I also had them as a side dish, along with highly-spiced roast pork and buttery, white hominy. But however they were prepared, they were always wonderful.
The Andes are where potatoes originated, so it is not surprising that Ecuador has them, but the variety and flavor were impressive—many types I’d never tried before. Of the varieties we have here, my choice for this recipe has always been new (red skinned) potatoes, because they have more protein and moisture, and hold together better. Yukon golds would probably be good, too. Russets or baking potatoes, which are dry and crumbly, wouldn’t work quite as well. However, farmers markets are now offering us more varieties than these grocery-store staples. You may want to experiment. Continue reading