PUNTOITALY No31 - July 2022

Carmine Church in Cuenca Photo by Kiyoshi on Unsplash After sixteen hours of travel, here I am finally at the Mariscal Sucre airport in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. The country is located right on the Equator, at zero degrees latitude, and it is exactly for this reason that this country has its name. Quito is a lively city, with two million inhabitants and a lot of tourism: it is the perfect location to open an Italian-style gelato or coffee shop. And in fact, as I walk around, I happen to come across “Los Helados de la mitad del mundo”: what a nice coincidence! I then leave for Cuenca, a university city known for its industrial and commercial businesses (it is where the famous and elegant “Panama” hat is produced). Even though it has maintained its colonial imprint, it is an urban centre with a young heart and an ample international spirit. And it is also dotted with gelato shops, cafés and restaurants. Here, among other things, is located the headquarters of the most dynamic business in the country for the supply of ingredients and accessories for gelato, pastry and hospitality in general. Many products are imported directly from Italy. A stroll through the “10 de Agosto” market in Cuenca is an opportunity to take a look at the generous local offer from mother nature. Here I discover fruits unknown to me, such as a banana with a pink coloured pulp. I cannot help but admire the chicken eggs with multicoloured shells: blue, grey, pink… My next stop is Guayaquil, the most populous city of Ecuador which has about 3 million inhabitants. It is home to the largest port of the country, which is also one of the most important on the Pacific coast of Latin America. Here in Guayaquil lives a community of Italian origin, more precisely from the Ligurian city of Chiavari, which is dedicated to the foodservice and hospitality industry. These are certainly the descendants of the numerous sailors who landed in Ecuador in the past centuries. Let’s not forget that the admiral Christopher Colombus was from Chiavari! Guayaquil is in the southwest of the country, on the coastal plans that extend to the north, close to the city of Esmeraldas. In this vast territory, agriculture, and with it, the agri-food industry, play a major role. It is a starting point for trade throughout the world. As usual, I start looking for the typical fruit of the region. I discover lush cocoa plantations. The most cultivated fruit is the cocoa pod, whose seeds become cocoa beans. It could not have been otherwise. 65