August 10 is the anniversary of Ecuador's independence in 1809. In 1995 and 1996, I lived in Ecuador and have many fond memories of my time there. This evening in Beijing the Ecuadorian embassy put on a grand fiesta with several hundred guests at the Sofitel hotel on Jianguomen, Beijing's main crosstown avenue. It began with the anthems of both Ecuador and China, a speech from the ambassador, a recorded message from President Rafael Correa, and the anthems of both countries sung to a video recording.
After the speeches, there was dining and mingling. The buffet included the usual Chinese and sushi plates I've come to expect at diplomatic gatherings with buffet tables. In addition, there were tables with Ecuadorian specialties. Shrimp in coconut sauce. Llapingauchos (stuffed potato patties). Corn and cheese bread. Flan. A Chinese colleague was with me at the event and I walked him through the Ecuadorian food, serving him things I haven't eaten in years and have missed.
There was no encebollado, the tuna and yuca soup I often crave and eat whenever I land in New York (I'm going to have to learn how to make it), but my appetite was well sated with the selection of Ecuadorian comida tipica on offer.
In addition to eating, the event included socializing. Celebrants from around the world, including staff at a range of embassies and executives and other honored guests from numerous companies and government organizations, joined the Ecuadorians in marking their dia nacional.