Moving from Louisiana to Ecuador, I resigned myself to giving up good seafood – crawfish especially. Last week, however, I was happy to find that during the months with an r in them,* coastal Ecuadorians eat the dirty little things with gusto.
From what I could gather during a conversation with one of my costeño friends named Byron, Ecuadorians fry crawfish tails inside of mashed plantains, making a sort of crawfish cake. They spice the masa (the Spanish word for mashed stuff) with oregano, parsley, garlic, sour orange juice, and something that may or may not be spelled paetaña. The cakes are topped with a kind of tomato paste, lime, and more paetaña.
I explained to Bryon in turn how we do things in Louisiana. He liked the idea of three-hour meals over folding tables covered with newspaper, beer cans and potatoes, but was less impressed with the thought of “sucking the heads.”
I also explained to Byron the meaning of the “crawfishing” for which we had to invent a new Spanish word: cangrejeando. The idea seemed to translate somewhat more easily than did the thought of boiling the bottom-dwellers alive without cleaning them first. Whatever – fried, boiled, steamed, grilled – I’m looking forward to Ecuador’s cangrejo season however they decide to serve them.
*September through April.