When I came to the archipelago for the first time, the first question I had for the local people and my team of warrior cooks at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel was: What is the most meaningful, classical or popular dish or dishes from the Galapagos Islands? Everybody told me different stories about their favorite food, but nobody had really shared the same concept or notion of what an emblematic Galapagos dish consisted of, exactly. So the question remains: What is traditional Galapagos food?
Is There Traditional Galapagos Food?
The people I asked began by telling me about how the Islands are inhabited by people from all throughout Ecuador; these of which had come to live here for different reasons and during different periods since the discovery and colonization of the Enchanted Isles. I started to research and read about the first colonizers that came here. What did they like to cook? How did they prepare it? What ingredients did they have at their disposal? The truth is that I found little to no information on this. I discovered there really is no iconic dish that is specific to the Galapagos.
However, there was no downside to finding out the Galapagos lacked a culinary tradition of their own. As I exchanged experiences and got to know the galapagueños a little better, I noticed a pattern in what they considered to be the islands’ gastronomical asset: their natural resources. A gift that people in the Galapagos have learned to never take for granted.
A Gift from Life
And this was perhaps exactly the type of answer I was hoping to find! Appreciating what planet Earth gives us – isn’t that the essence of food, after all? When fishermen sail out to the open sea every day to bring us back their bounties to cook, we can’t help but feel incredibly thankful. Giant lobsters, the freshest of fish, endemic prawns and octopi. The Galapagos’ sea is so rich with life, that we have the extraordinary opportunity to create dishes that you will not taste anywhere else in the world. The freshness of what is caught from the sea, combined with the produce harvested by farmers in the highlands of Santa Cruz and other inhabited islands, make for the best and most exotic combinations you will ever try. Flavors you could have never imagined exist right here in the Galapagos.
How Are Traditions Born?
With all this information and the ingredients we have available, we got to the most interesting part of the creative process as chefs: we now had to use our research to find out which are the most beloved ingredients in the archipelago in order to start creating culinary traditions of our own – traditions that respect our natural environment, while allowing us to design some of the most extraordinary combinations of flavors.
Who are the Manufacturers of Traditions?
Inside Finch’s kitchen, we are a very multicultural group. We come from different cities and communities from all around Ecuador and the Galapagos too. In our creative space, each cook shares their ideas for new recipes and dishes, some of which come from places as far away as our childhood memories, often times the fondest memories of all.
When creating dishes, I particularly enjoy the plating process, that is – the arrangement and overall styling of food upon a plate. Through the use of fresh and delicious garnishes, I seek to convey the environment and ecosystem of the Galapagos. I find inspiration everywhere, from the different hues of the sea, to the rough rocks on the beaches. Having the opportunity to observe the Galapagos’ unique wildlife and vegetation zones truly encourages one’s inspiration to reach unimaginable levels.
Are you interested in exploring the ultimate secluded destination?
Start from Scratch!
At the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, we are creating traditional Galapagos food from scratch! The detailed manufacturing and craftsmanship of our own plates allow us to be immersed in a rather creative atmosphere, making it easier for new and clearer ideas to come to our heads.
In the end, cooking in the Galapagos has only reinforced what has long been my cooking philosophy: we love to cook, we live to cook and we cook to live!
So join us on this gastronomic journey! We’re just getting started!