Today, my new Polish friend had invited me to go to an orphanage to help make fanesca, which is a traditional type of soup only made at Easter in Cuenca. A group of ex pat Americans had started to teach the children how to cook and also had other ideas in which they could help the students, who had either been abandoned by their parents or removed from their homes as a result of violence of one sort or another. These Americans were all from a particular church and had been helping at another orphanage until recently.
There were approximately 20 children of varying ages from about 10 upwards. We were led by one of the Ecuadorian church members, who makes fanesca each year and was able to demonstrate how to do it. The list of ingredients seemed to be endless and included a number of different types of beans, salted fish, garlic, lard and butter (in vast quantities). We were making enough soup for 80 people so there was much chopping of pumpkin and onions, shelling of broad beans and stripping white corn from the cob. I was very surprised at how well some of the students handled the very sharp knives, although I did have to stop one or two of them waving them around in the air and running them along their hands!
At the end, we all sat down and tasted the soup, which was served with cheese empanadas, also made by the students, a slice of cheese and parsley. And very delicious it was too! By the time we had finished, I was in need of a coffee so, having said goodbye to my Polish friend and the Americans, I wandered down to my latest favourite cafe and had one before returning to my room for a bit of rest and recuperation.
I had arranged to meet Carmen, the American lady I met at the workshop the other day, at the Jazz Club at 7.30pm so I didn’t have much time to relax before I was off again. She was late so I chatted to a Canadian chap whilst I was waiting and enjoyed a glass of wine. The venue, a restaurant, was surprisingly empty. I had expected it to be full. The music group consisted of a saxophonist, a keyboard player, a double bass player and a percussionist. They were joined for some sets by an excellent singer and, in between sets, an extremely talented guitarist entertained us. He played an unusual instrument that looked like an electric acoustic guitar but was much thinner and not like any I had seen before.
Between Carmen, myself and the Canadian, we had an excess of red wine and a very enjoyable evening and it was very late, for me, by the time I staggered back to the apartment.