Our Man Sietsema: ‘That valley was carpeted with bean plants’


Our Man Sietsema went hunting, with calvin Trillin, for an Ecuadorian Easter soup called fanesca, and eventually found it in Sunnyside at Guagua Pichincha. Fanesca is a bean bonanza with a salt cod stock.

The room was filled with snowy-haired ladies and gentlemen, some in wheelchairs, all slurping the Lenten soup ($10). My bowl of it brimmed with brown broth, and a split boiled egg floated on top, heaped with chopped cilantro. As I dredged in the complex and incredibly toothsome stew, I inventoried the ingredients: medium red beans and smaller pink ones, corn kernels of two sizes, green peas, giant fava beans with a black stripe along one edge, pine nuts, and potato-like tubers called mollocos, the size of a baby’s little finger. “The Ecuadorans have a very broad definition of bean,” Trillin had noted.

I thought I saw the face of Jesus on one of the tiny mollocos. But rather than scare the other customers, I shut up and swallowed it.

The soup is only served on Lenten Fridays, but don’t worry, Our man also enjoyed his encebollado mixto, some llapingachos, and a bandera equitoriana, which came with “a side of tart and soupy shrimp ceviche.”

Guagua Pichincha
43-07 48th Street
Sunnyside, Queens