Mote pata: I call this the Ecuadorian pozole – without the peppers. And thicker. Mote pata is a soup traditionally served during Carnaval in Cuenca, the third largest city in Ecuador. Now, Carnaval in Ecuador is quite different from Carnaval in Brazil. Different regions in Ecuador have different ways of celebrating it. For instance, in Guayaquil (where I’m from) we have the tradition of throwing balloons full of water at people. When you’re a kid, this is tons of fun. You can get together with your friends and have an awesome water balloon fight. When you’re a professional adult, walking down the street trying to get to work and suddenly you get whacked by a water balloon – notsomuch. Not to mention that many times, the water balloon throwing was done several stories ABOVE the sidewalks. Yeah, that hurts. If balloons are not available, not to worry! Just get a bucket, fill it with water and dump it on the innocent bystander. ¡Carnavalazo! That’s what it’s called…
The good thing is that, it is not like this all over the country. For instance, in Ambato, a beautiful city located in the Ecuadorian Andes region, people celebrate Carnaval through a festival dedicated to celebrate the flowers and the fruits of the region. This celebration is known as La Fiesta de las Flores y Las Frutas. Think of it as the Ecuadorian Rose Parade for Carnaval. People dress up in festive and colorful costumes, and ride floats decorated with beautiful and bright flowers and fruits. It is typical that during Carnaval in Ambato, people feast on some delicious Llapingacho, probably one of my favorite Ecuadorian meals.
Now, back to the Mote Pata. Although the name would suggest that there are feet or hocks involved (pata), this is not true. This soup is made of hominy and pork, with a hint of peanuts for creaminess. As with many Ecuadorian soups, mote pata contains milk. After experimenting, I am going to tell you that milk is optional. While milk helps the soup thicken, if it gets too hot, it curdles and I am not a fan. Instead, we will puree some of the hominy with the peanut (I used peanut butter), which will then add the thickness and creaminess this soup calls for. Should you wish to add the milk, add it right before serving and cook in low heat for 5 minutes.