‘Fanesca’ – The Ecuadorian delight served on Good Friday

In Ecuador, a country full of tradition and dishes that tempt the palate, every holiday has a specific food related to it. For the Day of the Dead, it is a hot blackberry drink with bread dolls. At Christmastime, it is the delicious pristiños – fried dough usually in the form of a crown served with a sweet syrup. And for Holy Week, it is fanesca – an elaborate, rich, creamy soup packed full of grains.

The 'empanadas' and little dough balls that are an absolute must on top of every dish of fanesca

The ’empanadas’ and little dough balls that are an absolute must on top of every dish of fanesca

Fanesca can be found in restaurants several weeks before Holy Week, but families get together to prepare it at home on Good Friday. It is a very rich soup, with the primary ingredients being figleaf gourd, pumpkin, and twelve different kinds of grains to represent each of the disciples. These grains include lupines, fava beans, lentils, peas, and corn. Fanesca also includes milk and salt cod, due to the Catholic tradition of not eating red meat during Holy Week. The cod represents Christ. In addition to that plethora of ingredients, it is garnished with fried plantains, herbs, hard boiled eggs, and mini empanadas. Families have their own unique recipes, and as is common in Ecuador, everybody likes their mom’s the best. (Pictured above is my fanesca today made by my Ecuadorian mama, aunts, and grandma and it is, hands down, the best in Ecuador!) The preparation of this very important dish is labor intensive as many of the grains need to be peeled and shelled beforehand, the cod must be soaked, and many ingredients must be cooked separately before being added to the soup. This makes for a family gathering for the preparation of this Holy Week delight. Rice pudding is commonly served as dessert following fanesca. This delectable stew is only available at this time of year so Ecuadorians get it while they can!



Fanesca with all its garnishes



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