Route of Mortiño in Mejía, Valley of the 9 Volcanoes
When mentioning mortiño, the first thing that comes to mind is the delicious and delicious Colada Morada, which is tasted in November, to commemorate the Day of the Dead. The indigenous peoples of Ecuador and Latin America for many centuries performed important rituals at this time to share with the dead. Many towns tasted on their graves, the Colada Morada with children shaped bread. They have an important symbolic and cultural load, representing the blood of the deceased, and the bread-shaped finishes, with colorful decorations. This ritual was an extension of life and a denial of death.
At present there are several places that maintain the aforementioned tradition, however, the preparation of this traditional drink was established throughout the country. The aroma spreads through every corner with the use of mortiño, blackberry, ishpingo, clove, cornstarch or black corn, sweet herbs, and depending on the preparation, guava, babaco, strawberry or pineapple are included
Route of the Mortiño
We begin our journey at Hacienda Los Mortiños, 3,600 meters above sea level, here the mortiño plantations are extensive and if you pass by them, you will not perceive their presence, their bushes are small and very sticky. In the moors of the Andean region you will find three species of mortiño: one endemic and two native.
We traveled 56 km for 1:30 minutes, to reach the highlands of El Pedregal, and to collect this fruit. The cold was intense and its winds were so strong that we were about to be detached from the floor. While the weather was decreasing its intensity we admire the beauty of the Cotopaxi Volcano. They told us that in the summer season and when the sky is clear you can see elevations such as: Rumiñahui, Pasochoa, Sincholagua, Cayambe, Puntas, Puyapuya, Yanahurco and Cotocachi.
How to harvest the mortiño?
Well, it is very easy, you must take the branch and its movement will be smooth as shelling a corn, it is something simple, at least we managed to collect about 2 little mortiño pockets for the Colada in the house.
This hacienda is part of the route of the mortiño, here you have multiple options to get out of the routine, such as: walks, horseback riding, harvest of mortiño, rest in the rooms with spectacular landscapes, and delicious cuisine of the Andean moorland. The people of this place will welcome you with open arms, they will make you feel at home, and I am sure you will return for more photographs and experiences.
The wild fruit with multiple facets
The gastronomic tour of the Ruta del Mortiño, will allow you to feel spectacular flavors and with unimaginable combinations. In this adventure our palates were satisfied and our experience was extraordinary. We not only tasted the delicacies made with mortiño, but we were part of their preparations, and as they say we are anchoring our culinary knowledge more recipes to surprise the most demanding palates.
As part of the “Rout of Mortiño” we met four ventures that showed us a bit of their great list of culinary specialties. “Rincón de Carlitos”, Pizzería Peperoni restaurant, Heladería La Avanzada and Miele Sweet, places that will captivate you with their flavors.
The restaurant " Rincón de Carlitos ", with 27 years of experience, showed us countless recipes based on mortiño. If you want to enjoy a trout, beef beef, grilled fish, and more, this is the ideal place to delight your palates with innovative recipes with mortiño. It is located in the Aloag obelisk, in the Panamericana Sur. Here, 365 days a year you will find Colada Morada.
The mortiño takes the canton Mejía and in the Pizzería Peperoni restaurant, you will enjoy a delicious pizza of mortiño, its flavor will make you come back for more. This place offers puff pastry and traditional pizzas, accompanied by a delicious mozarrella cheese made in the area. A different recipe that you will simply love.
Do you like ice cream with multiple flavors?
Heladería La Avanzada, offers one of its specialties, mortiño ice cream, made with quality products from the area. What does that ice cream taste like? Well, I will not tell you, I better invite you to discover its flavor in this place located at kilometer 39 of the South Pan American Highway, I am sure that when you go through this site on your trips you will stop to savor this treat.
Miele Sweet is a proposal that combines honey, egg white, and pulp of mortiño, developing a new product 'delicacy of honey with mortiño', which shows the inventiveness of the people of the Mejía canton. This treat will enter your palate in a very delicate way and will be an ideal gift for candy lovers.
In all the premises we actively participate in the elaboration of these dishes based on mortiño, and told them that their people, opened the doors to know their ventures, and was one of the best experiences in the “Valley of the 9 volcanoes”.
The blood of the deceased in their homes
The restaurant "El Rincón de Carlitos” is a place where we prepare our delicious Colada Morada, then I detail the ingredients and the preparation for you to do at home, you cannot stop doing it.
Ingredients: sweet spices (clove, ishpingo, sweet pepper, cinnamon), a bundle of aromatic herbs (cedar, amaranth, lemon verbena, myrtle), 4 guavas, 6 oranges, 3 pounds of mortiño, one pound of sugar, vanilla essence (50 cm3) and a pound of blackberry.
May luck be with us, so was our desire to prepare the Colada Morada between industrial kitchens and countless kitchen utensils, our main purpose was to prepare this delicious traditional drink.
We begin this preparation by placing the herbs and spices tied in a pot with boiling water, or as the connoisseurs of the kitchen would say that the water is boiling. This preparation should be cooked for an hour, and the aroma it gives off is sweet, it fills the environment with a really pleasant smell.
While we waited for the cooking time, our friend María Gómez, owner of Rincón de Carlitos told us that she never thought of having the venture, and that she did not like culinary art. Life revolves and now has the best seasoning to prepare all the delights of this restaurant.
An hour later, all the spices threw their aroma, and we proceeded to sift the water in another container, remember to carefully take the water to avoid burning. Everything is very easy, even the most inexperienced in the kitchen can prepare this drink.
In this water we put the sugar, vanilla essence , the mortiño , the blackberry , the guava , the juice naranjilla; and again we let cook for an hour. Then we hear the noise of the blender, crushing the fruits that were cooked. This should sneak and then thicken with cornstarch. To conclude and already very eager to taste our Colada let boil until the preparation thickens. But before serving, we remind you that you can place fruits such as strawberries , pineapple and babaco. They must be prepared separately in syrup.
And when the Colada was served on the table I observed its color, which initially shook my body at the thought that it could be the blood of a deceased. My thinking is based on the Ecuadorian tradition, which reproduces cultural expressions at all times.
If you like to experience new and innovative flavors, the Mejía canton shows you its cuisine based on mortiño, a páramo fruit, which has entered the local gastronomy to show the world its versatility and flavor. We say goodbye with our glasses in high tasting a sweet wine of mortiño, which can be purchased at the craft fair held in the central park.
Come to the canton Mejia and fall in love with its landscapes, gastronomy, culture and history
By: Sandy Doicela