A Pristiño Stand – a Quito Street Treat

I saw a few pristiño stands pop up over the past few weeks, a street food cum sweet treat that looks a lot like the fried dough you typically find at carnivals and county fairs in the U.S. That likeness, albeit a smaller version of it, initially turned me off, but not for long. Besides tripe, I try and taste just about everything, even South American interpretations of Elephant Ears.

Not surprisingly, they’re not nearly as sweet as the standard fried dough, but they are stickier and potentially much more messy. A friendly and patient vendor told me that they’re made from a simple mixture of flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and butter, with water seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and anise. They’re then generally topped with honey or panela (or a combination of the two), the latter a syrup made from a molasses flavored unrefined sugar and mixed with cinnamon. Which is where the messiness enters. Panela, by the way, is often sold in cubes –similar to pieces of fudge– and then melted.

Since it only recently appeared –or at least just appeared to me– I assumed it was an Easter-related dish. A post-Lent treat, perhaps. I was on the right track, but not quite; they are a holiday snack, I was told, but traditionally more closely associated with Christmas than Easter. They’re a buck a bowl and, as you might expect, very filling. Each time I tried them I did spoil my appetite. One day I’ll learn.

For the pristiño-curious, I found a recipe on Laylita.com. I won’t be making them anytime soon but don’t let that stop you.

And for the record, today’s Pic du Jour, the 458th straight, was taken in Quito, Ecuador on 11 April 2015.

ISO 400


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