March 28 – 31: Easter in a predominantly Catholic country…we knew it would be interesting!
The tradition starts with a “sacred” soup influenced by indigenous and Spanish cultures that is only served during Semana Santa – for some restaurants only on Good Friday – called fanesca. It’s a complete meal. The soup usually has (at least) twelve ingredients to represent the twelve apostles. Although it can be made in 24 hours, connoisseurs say the best fanesca takes days. The process is a labor of love passed down through generations, and each family has its own tradition of preparation. We tried it two times and can attest that it does vary…but they were both delicious!
Even on solemn Good Friday, Cuenca was festive. On Thursday we, and it seemed half of Cuenca, partook in the tradition of visiting seven (chosen from the 52 downtown) churches. It was great to enter some of the churches that are not open often and, where there are people, there are vendors. From empanadas de viento (like fried sugar donuts) to kebabs, from candied apples to toys, and everything in between. We made it to six of the downtown churches and then entered our local church to make it seven (a bit of cheating, but we did visit seven!)
We left on Saturday for a lovely weekend in the Yunguilla valley about an hour outside of Cuenca. We spent Easter there enjoying the warmer weather and swimming. Our gringo hosts, David and Don, have a hacienda with gorgeous views of the green and lush valley. Some call it paradise there and judging from our stay, we can see why!