When you first open the menu at the Casa Gangotena restaurant, it’s a little bit of a surprise to see the words cocina mestiza staring you in the face. “But I just want to eat normal food,” you think. Don’t worry! At Casa Gangotena, the cocina mestiza menu is an international, trendsetting dining experience that can only be enjoyed in its venerable restaurant. The sensational flavors, premium ingredients, and the sheer variety of dishes are a testament to the painstaking levels of detail and perfection constantly upheld in Casa Gangotena.
But what does cocina mestiza mean in English?
Luckily, we can easily translate cocina to “kitchen” or “cuisine;” however the word mestiza is a little more complicated. A direct translation would tell you that it means “mestizo,” which is someone of mixed race – probably not the best translation for food!
We could loosely say that it means “mixed,” but that simply doesn’t do justice to the depth of the word in relation to the menu at Casa Gangotena. It represents the unique blend of two wonderful cultures at different times in history – a tribute to Ecuador’s European heritage and its local ancestry. However, without knowing the backstory, it is hard to truly appreciate the exquisite experience of the cocina mestiza.
What does it involve?
Let’s start at the very beginning. It’s important to understand that Ecuador consists of four distinctive regions, and within each of them the cultures and food differ tremendously. Historically, it was a long, tiring journey from the highlands to the coast or to the Amazon, while the Galapagos are even more difficult to get to – only accessible by plane (or a very long voyage aboard a ship!). Therefore, before engines were invented and roads were properly built, once people settled in a specific region they didn’t venture too far from it. This resulted in cultures developing their own specific traditions, distinct cooking styles, and varied diets that suited their particular area.
Indigenous tribes stuck to root vegetables like potatoes and grains such as quinoa and others available in their region. They ate very little meat except for seafood and the occasional animal they were able to hunt. In the 16th century, the Spaniards arrived and conquered the Inca empire along with several local indigenous tribes. Along the way, they introduced dishes from Europe which included a lot of meat, including beef, lamb, pork, and chicken. This represented an enormous change in the style of cooking that was widespread in Ecuador at that time, as well as the diets of those living in the country.
Today, as the world has become infinitely smaller due to air travel, the internet, and phones, many nationalities have planted their roots in Ecuador, including people from Europe, North America and Asia. The introduction of these new cultures has led to a completely new dynamic in Ecuadorian cuisine.
Our extraordinary cocina mestiza menu expertly blends the primarily vegetarian diet and cooking styles of the country’s first indigenous tribes with the more diverse European cuisine and premium cuts that were introduced along with it, creating an unparalleled dining experience that meshes many cultures together with unique ingredients sourced from the different regions of Ecuador in each dish.
What are some examples of cocina mestiza?
Casa Gangotena’s cocina mestiza is an incredible culinary adventure. While sitting in the comfort of the magical Casa Gangotena restaurant, you can enjoy Paiche, an Amazon river fish delicately enveloped in a white coconut sauce and squid ink tuile from the coast, served with Amazonian cassava puree. The expert creation of this dish combines specific regional ingredients to ensure that the exotic flavors of Ecuador explode in every bite.
Another sought-after dish on the cocina mestiza menu is the Pacific lobster from the rich waters near the Galapagos Islands accompanied by Chaucha potatoes from the Andean highlands and a delicious sauce made from locally-sourced garlic and caramelized onions. This incomparable treat will have your taste buds begging for more!
Some menu items may be a little hard to explain as the herbs and vegetables used are native to the area and aren’t commonly found outside of Latin America. One example is the Grilled Portobello Mushrooms which come with a variety of vegetables including Mashua, a tubular vegetable native to the Andes that looks and tastes similar to yams. You will probably never have a chance to taste this vegetable outside of Ecuador’s highlands.
The original recipe of the iconic Manabi-style ceviche also appears on the menu, made from scratch just like it was hundreds of years ago. The fresh coastal fish, along with lemon, tomato, parsley, and onions are cooked together in a savory fish broth and served with fresh Ecuadorian avocado and peanuts.
The chefs at the Casa Gangotena restaurant employ a myriad of cooking techniques from all over the world, ranging from those used by ancient indigenous tribes to the modern influences seen in each dish on the menu. The delicious oven-baked pork, for example, is cooked Sangolqui-style. Sangolqui is a small town close to Quito that boasts the title of the Ecuadorian capital of hornado, a delightful local dish of expertly roasted pork and at least six different side dishes. The signature pork is roasted whole in an array of herbs and vegetables over an enclosed wood fire, its succulent flavor drawn from its beer-based marinade.
What other aspects make Casa Gangotena’s cocina mestiza menu different from any other restaurant?
In addition to the perfect blend of local ingredients, traditional recipes, and historic cultures, the cocina mestiza also employs incredibly unique plateware. Calling upon Ecuador’s volcanic origins, the dishes used in the restaurant of Casa Gangotena are partially made from basalt and granite. Each one also contains a graphic representation of the San Francisco church in homage to Casa Gangotena’s iconic neighbor. Incredibly enough, no two dishes are the same, leading to cocina mestiza’s stunning visuals.
The cocina mestiza of Casa Gangotena is an authentic gastro-sensorial tribute to the best local ingredients raised to the highest levels of international cuisine. It offers guests the opportunity to experience every culture and area of Ecuador at the same time while sitting in the comfort of the luxurious Casa Gangotena restaurant. Every flavor, every sauce, and every spice has been expertly chosen to truly represent the very best of Ecuadorian gastronomy. The cocina mestiza isn’t just a menu – it is an intricate blend of the very essence of traditional flavors, creating an entirely unique, mouthwatering dining experience.