Ecuadorian All Soul’s Day produces two of the country’s most distinct culinary traditions – guaguas de pan and colada morada. Come and try the unusual custom for yourself at Casa Gangotena, where quiteño and Ecuadorian traditions are treated with reverence.
On November 2, Ecuadorians commemorate Día de los Difuntos (All Souls’ Day), a national holiday. On the days surrounding the holiday, families, and large groups of extended families, make their way to cemeteries throughout the country, bringing flowers and food to decorate their loved ones’ graves. Time is spent sharing the deceased’s favourite dishes, and families always leave a plate for the dead ancestor to enjoy. To the Andean communities, death is just a transition to another life. Bringing what the departed loved most is a way to renew their bond with them. In Quito, one of the best places to observe this tradition is in the Cementerio de San Diego, to the southwest of the Old Town, just to the west of the Panecillo hill.
At this time of year in the Andes, a wild berry called mortiño (Vaccinium floribundum or Andean blueberry) comes into fruit in the highland páramos. People make the most of this succulent, dark berry to make a very special drink, only prepared at this time: colada morada. It’s a tasty, slightly spicy, thick, hot beverage, cooked with mortiño, strawberries, black corn flour, small pieces of pineapple and babaco (Andean papaya), herbs and spices such as ishpingo (Ocotea quixos).
This year the featured guaguas are: Diablo Huma, representing the mountain regions, filled with delicious mashua; Negrita Marimbera, direct from Esmeraldas, filled with moist apple jam; Quito’s own Chulla Quiteño, filled with fig jelly, and Rubia Gangotena, filled with guava jam, just as tradition would have it.
Taste them all and relive the tradition in Casa Gangotena’s Restaurant!
Colada Morada is a delicious drink, traditionally accompanied by guaguas de pan (literally ‘bread or dough babies’ – see above): bread baked in the shape of a doll and decorated with icing and colourful toppings, and sometimes filled with marmalade or dulce de leche. Guagua [prounounced wa-wa] is the onomatopoeic Kichwa word for child.
The drink and the bread are full of symbolism: the colada symbolizes the blood of the dead in the minds of the people, and guaguas represent the body.
Casa Gangotena celebrates the tradition with respect and attention to detail, serving the symbolic bread and warming drink every afternoon until November 15th on the elegant covered patio. It is a custom that delights children and adults alike, and one that helps forge a connection between the past and the present.
We invite you to come to Casa Gangotena to try these traditional treats for yourself!