Ecuador

Lunch at the Plaza Grande Hotel (Quito, Ecuador)

Written by Mark McElroy

We’re at breakfast at Casa El Eden, chatting with a fellow traveler.

“There’s this restaurant around here that’s crazy,” he says. “You order ice cream, and a Ku Klux Klansman delivers it.”

I hesitate. “A … Klansman?”

“A Klansman … in a purple robe.” He giggles. “You don’t get that in the States!”

We decide our new friend has been sampling more than ice cream and excuse ourselves.

Later in the day, after exploring the Plaza Grande, we decide to have lunch at the well-regarded Plaza Grande Hotel.

It’s hard not to like a meal that starts with a complimentary bowl of house-made sliced veggie chips:

cafe-plaza-grande-chips

After scouring the menu, I decide to order “The Secrets of the Friar” — a spicy seafood spaghetti dish. A few minutes later, I see a strange look on Clyde’s face — and then he scrambles for his camera. Clyde’s not much for taking photos, so I’m curious — and then, I discover my “Secrets of the Friar” is being delivered by, well, the Friar himself:

secrets-of-the-friar

It’s a pleasant surprise that my seafood spaghetti is as delicious as its delivery is dramatic:

secrets-of-the-friar-speghetti

Later in the meal, the yummy noises I’m making are interrupted by an ominous gong. After it sounds twelve times, we’re surprised to see bubbling, steaming platters of ice cream being delivered to a neighboring table … by Klansmen in purple robes:

cafe-plaza-grande-robed-figure_Snapseed

They’re not Klansmen, of course — they’re cucuruchos, generally associated with Quito’s Easter traditions. Robed in purple from head to toe, the cucuruchos wear pointed hoods as symbols of their humanity and the color purple to show repentance. They’re normally a part of Holy Week parades … but here, the cucuruchos deliver a decadent ice cream platter — a platter heaped so high with ice cream, you’ll probably need to do some repentance yourself after eating it.

If you love the cucuruchos, the hotel gift shop even sells tiny ones you can take back home:

purple-robes

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Mark McElroy

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