On most Thursday mornings, you can find us at the organic popup market outside Mercado 27 de Febrero in Cuenca Ecuador. It’s a short 10 minute walk from our house so it’s very convenient.
We’re not 100% sure everything is truly organic, but everything is 100% beautiful and delicious. And since the prices are so reasonable, we figure it’s worth it, regardless.
People & Places (and Animals)
It’s common to see dogs, stray or otherwise, walking down the sidewalk like they’re heading to work…and some are. They have places they frequent where people feed them or food scraps can be found. Then they return home at the end of the day.
The dogs here are much smarter than those in the states. We’ve actually seen dogs stop and look both ways before crossing the street. They go about their days here just like they’re little furry humans.
Mercado 27 de Febrero in Cuenca Ecuador
The mercado is usually bustling with activity, but we were there very early on this Thursday morning because our littlest dog woke us up at 5:30am to go outside. A lot of the shops in the mercado weren’t open yet, but the organic market was already busy.
Mercado 27 de Febrero Organic Thursday Market
We love the fresh and delicious fruits and veggies at the organic Thursday market. And the people are super nice and helpful. We usually visit the same people every week for the same things.
These are our yellow potato and avocado ladies. And we sometimes buy other things from them, too.
DELICIOUS Yellow Potatoes!
We always have some of these on hand for snacks and side dishes. I cook a big batch in our pressure cooker and keep them in the fridge. Then we just warm them up in the microwave (microwaving is healthy, despite the misconceptions).
They’re so buttery and delicious that you can eat them without anything on them. However, we usually top them with hot sauce, Tabasco, salsa, refried beans or just a little salt and pepper.
Avocados are usually 3 or 4 for a dollar, and they’re deliciously creamy. They also last a long time, unlike avocados in the states. You can buy a soft avocado and it’ll still be good to eat 3 or 4 days later. However, if you buy a hard avocado, you’ll need to wait a week or two before it’s ripe enough to eat.
The tomatoes are juicy and delicious, just like the tomatoes from my grandpa’s garden when I was a kid. You can literally eat them like an apple. Be sure to get ones that are a little soft when squeezed. We’ve found some that have a tough inner layer. They still taste good, but they’re not as juicy.
This is a large, prehistoric looking fruit. The inside is white and fleshy with lots of large black seeds. Amelia loves these, but they’re too sour for my taste. I prefer chirimoyas (sweet sops), which are smaller and taste like cotton candy.
Pitahaya (Dragon Fruit)
The yellow funky look fruit in this picture is called a Pitahaya (or Dragon Fruit). It has a white, juicy interior with little black seeds, and it tastes like candy.
It’s super sweet and delicious, but it’s commonly used for constipation relief. In fact, it works so well, I’m usually heading to the bathroom within an hour of eating one! That means I don’t eat them very often, unfortunately. ?
Adding Up the Price
It seems that most things at the mercados are sold in one dollar increments. You can ask for 50 cents (cincuenta centavos) or $2 or some other amount, but most things start at $1.
Once you’ve picked out everything you want, they’ll put it in your bags and add the price up as they go. We bought $7.50 worth of fruit and veg from this vendor, and another $7.50 from another vendor today.
One thing we really like about Ecuador is that they use the dollar for their currency. Not only does it make shopping much easier (we don’t need to do currency translations in our heads), but the dollars we earned back in the US go much further here. The $15 worth of organic produce we bought today would have easily cost us $80 to $100 in Denver (and they wouldn’t have tasted as good).
See More: Cuenca Mercados
Amelia’s Shocked Face
We were at an outdoor clothing and housewares market a couple weeks ago and Amelia accidentally walked off with a purse without paying for it. We noticed before we got too far and she took it back, but she almost did the same thing again today! She had a bag of fruit on her arm under her coat… Should we be worried? ?
Washing the Fruits and Veggies
We always wash the fruits and veggies as soon as we get home so they’re ready to eat when we want them. Even though these are (supposedly) organic, they still need to be washed, especially the veggies.
They sell veggie wash in the grocery stores here, but we don’t use it. I “Gregered” this topic when we went plant-based and found that vinegar works better than the chemical washes, and simple salt water works even better than vinegar.
All you need is a 10% salt water solution (that’s 1 part salt to 10 parts water) to clean your veggies. We also scrub the veggies with a brush to get them extra clean. Then we rinse them in fresh water to remove the salt and let air dry.
Our Haul from Mercado 27 de Febrero
This haul of fresh, organic fruits and veggies cost us about $15. Not only are they cheaper here, but they taste 100 times better. They taste like the fruits and veggies tasted when we were kids. They’re juicy, flavorful and delicious.
Amelia & JP Just Having Fun
You’ll see in our videos that we like to laugh and have fun. We love living in Ecuador and we’re very thankful to have each other. Sharing this unconventional and exciting experience with a kindred spirit makes it even more enjoyable.
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Spanish Words & Phrases
tomate, cebolla – tomato, onion
las papas – the potatoes
Tengo una funda – I have a plastic bag (in Ecuador, funda is more commonly used for plastic bag instead of bolsa)
yapa/yapita – a little extra to say thanks
¿Qué más? – What else? (literally, What more?)
aguacate – avocado
demasiado duro – too hard
coliflor – cauliflower
Sí, por favor – yes please
col rojo – red cabbage
zanahorias – carrots
¿Tienen arvejas? – Do you have peas?
¿Una libra o dos? – One pound or two?
es todo – that’s all (literally, it is all)
la camote – the sweet potato (they’ll know what you mean if you say papa dulce, but camote is the correct word)
la guanábana – the soursop
la pitahaya – the dragon fruit
Creo que es todo para hoy. – I think this is all for today.
la próxima semana – see you next week (literally, next week)
la espinaca – the spinach