Japanese Pocky vs Korean Pepero: The Battle of the Chocolate Biscuit Sticks

Pocky and Pepero are both chocolate covered biscuit sticks. So what’s the difference?

Japanese Pocky (ポッキー ) came first and were first sold in Japan in 1966 by the Glico company. Since 1966, Pocky has produced a variety of different flavors for Pocky. Some flavors include strawberry, cookies and cream, orange, banana, green tea, and coconut. Pocky also has some unusual flavors such as lychee, sweet potato, black sesame, and kiwifruit mango.

Pockypocky flavors

Korean Pepero (빼빼로) were sold in South Korean since 1983 by the Lotte confectionary company. Pepero also has a variety of flavors for their biscuit sticks such as chocolate, strawberry, white chocolate, almond with chocolate, mint chocolate, peanut butter, dark chocolate, blueberry yogurt, tiramisu, melon, and so on.

peperopepero peanut

I personally do not have a preference. I have tried both pocky and pepero and to be honest, I don’t taste a difference. They pretty much taste the same to me, probably because they are almost the same thing except for the fact that they produce some different flavors. I have noticed in the United States, however, it is much easier to find and buy pocky in stores such as your local grocery store than it is to find and buy pepero. The only places I was able to find pepero were Asian food markets and possibly F.Y.E.

What do you prefer: Pocky or Pepero?

Planning a Trip to Europe

In a few months, I will be going back to Europe for the third time! The past two times I went to Europe, I traveled to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Belgium, Holland, and Denmark. This time I will be going to Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Italy, Luxembourg, and France. 

So far, I’ve traveled to 13 countries. After this trip, though, I will have traveled 17 countries in total. Right now, I’m still currently in the process of planning the trip. Some of the places I’ll be revisiting and some of the places are going to be completely new to me. I’m not going to say exactly where I’m going just yet. I’ll leave that for after I come back and can post pictures. 

Japanese Bento Boxes

Japanese bento boxes are packed lunch boxes or takeaway containers that are made out of wood, plastic, or metal. Bento boxes are often filled with cooked rice, meats, fish, pickled and/or cooked vegetables, and egg. They are usually made by parents to give to their children for lunch in school or sold as takeaway foods from restaurants or train stations. These bento boxes are often nicely decorated and look very cute. I’m not exactly sure if I would be able to eat from the bento boxes if they looked this cute!

Dia de los Muertos: Day of the Dead

From November 1 to November 2, the people of Mexico celebrate Dia de los Muertos, otherwise known as day of the dead. During Dia de los Muertos, people celebrate the lives of the deceased. It is said that on November 1 the spirits of deceased children come down to reunite with their families, while on November 2 the spirits of deceased adults come down. 

Dia de los Muertos is celebrated first in each family’s home. An altar, called an ofrenda, made for the deceased and then decorated. The altar is decorated with candles, flowers, foods such as tortilla and Day of the Dead-bread, drinks, toys and candies for the children, cigarettes and alcohol for the adults, skeletons and sugar skulls, and favorite memories or things of the deceased. They leave these things for the deceased, because it is said that the deceased’s spirit will come down and enjoy these things when they come down to reunite with their families.

On the afternoon of November 2, families go to the cemetary to their loved ones’ graves. They clean the graves, play games, listen to music, and celebrate the lives and memories of their deceased loved ones. 

The Difference Between Korean Kimbap and Japanese Sushi

Korean kimbap and Japanese sushi look the same, but are they really the same thing? The answer is yes and no.

Japanese sushi consists of vinegared rice, which is combined with other ingredients like raw seafood and vegetables. Japanese sushi has various types. Some of these include:

makizushi, also known as norimaki (rolled sushi)              makizushi

nigirizushi (hand-pressed sushi)                                                      nigirizushi

chirashizushi (scattered sushi)                                        chirashizushi

inarisushi (pouch sushi) -fried tofu pouch filled with cooked vinegared riceinarizushi

oshizushi (box sushi)                                                   oshizushi

Korean kimbap is like a variant of Japanese norimaki. In kimbap, however, the rice is usually mixed with sesame oil. Kimbap usually contains rice, vegetables (carrots, kimchi, pickled radish, etc.), meat (beef, ham, crab, etc), and fried egg.

kimbap

 

 

Adventures to Nagoya and Kyoto

It’s been about a few weeks since I’ve came back from my trip to Japan and since school is canceled again because of the recent snowstorm, I decided to write about my trip.

Before even going to Japan, I had a layover in Beijing, China for 2 hours. Well that was a trip itself…While I was on my flight to Beijing, they decided to cancel my flight from Beijing to Nagoya due to the lack of people. So you can pretty much understand how worried and confused I was when I arrived to Japan. First off, you are not even allowed to stay in China for more than 3 days without a visa. Second off, I had to explain my situation to customs and the ticketing officers with the basic Chinese
I know which still led to confusion from the language barrier. And third off, trying to figure how and when I would be able to get to Japan while trying to find my suitcase.

All in all, after a few hours everything worked out. I found my suitcase, the airplane carrier I was traveling on was able to book me a (free) ticket and hotel room, and the next day I was able to fly to Nagoya.

*Note: when traveling, expect the unexpected. You’ll never know what will happen. Make sure you have enough money, a way to contact someone from home, and keep track of your belongings at all times.

When I finally made it to Japan and my friend picked me up, I felt like I was in a whole new world. Everything was in Japanese, smaller, and the very best-cuter. You could see mascots and pictures of famous anime characters from e.g. Pokemon or Love Live!

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We were around Nagoya for about a week and then spent about 2 days in Kyoto. Even though I was only there for about a week and a half, we were still able to see and plenty of things.

The first day we went to the aquarium in Nagoya. There I was able to see not only fish but seals, turtles, penguins, whales, dolphins, and some really ugly fish (and I mean ugly).

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Throughout the days in Nagoya, we did a lot of shopping, went to Nagoya castle, Nabana no Sato (a winter wonderland of lights, a science museum, and one of my all time favorites-the Pokemon Center.

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Before New Years, we visited Kyoto for about 2 days. Each day we went to about 3 different sites. This included Kiyomizu temple, Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kinkakuji temple, and Sanjusangendo (Buddhist temple with 1000 statues). On the way to all the places, there were vendors and souvenir shops all over the place. One of my favorite things I saw at most of the shops were the amount of kokeshi dolls. If you’re not sure what kokeshi dolls are then you can read about them in my blog post here:

https://christinathepolyglot.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/kokeshi-dolls/

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Visiting all the places was definitely a lot of fun. Another thing I enjoyed about being in Japan was the food. I was able to try so many different foods and desserts while I was there. And there’s so many I already miss eating. I tried tonkatsu (pork cutlet), okonomiyaki (vegetable pancake with meat and sauce), fried shrimp, loco moco (even though it’s technically Hawaiian), kishimen noodles with miso, different types of soups, real ramen with dumplings and rice, melon bread ice cream, cakes, strawberry cheesecake kit kat, and so much more!

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All in all you can say I had a great trip. I’m so lucky and thankful to have such a good friend (who’s like my twin) to allow me to stay with her and her family and show me around like she did.

Japan is definitely a great place to visit and I highly recommend to go if you ever get the chance!

First Two Weeks

Tomorrow is the two week mark since I’ve been in Germany. Before I came here, I thought the German culture and American culture/lifestyle were at least a little bit similar. Well, I was wrong. The food/meals, school, transportation, etc. are a lot different.My life here is completely different than my life in America.

Food/Meals: The meat and other foods are a lot larger here than I expected. The food is always fresh, and almost always prepared-unlike in America where we seem to just grab something out of the freezer and cook in the microwave. For Fruhstuck (breakfast), I normally eat muesli on schooldays and eggs or bread with meat, cheese, and meat on weekends. During school, I’ll have Pausenbrot (bread or a sandwich eaten during breaks). Then after that is Mittagsessen (lunch), which is the largest meal of the day. Lunch for me is always something different: Maultaschen (my favorite), spaghetti, pizza, cordon bleu with french fries, sausage, doner, etc. And then is Abendsessen (dinner), which is usually just bread or brezel with meat, cheese, butter, etc. German food is delicious, especially the desserts.

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School: The school I am attending is called a Gymnasium. In the Gymnasium that I’m attending, there are Grades 5 through 12 (I believe). My classes change everyday, and each class (or lesson) is 90 minutes long. 3 days a week I have 3 classes (or blocks) and I get to leave at 1 pm. In between each period is a 15 minute break. On Monday, I have 4 blocks and I get to leave at 3:30 pm. After the third block, there is a 30 or 45 minute break for lunch. On Thursday, I have 5 blocks..which means I don’t get to leave school until 5 pm. Leaving at 5 pm isn’t actually all that bad. The class subjects are almost all the same like in America except for Religion. All my classes (except for English and Spanish), are taught in German (of course). The first couple days, I didn’t understand at all. But everyday, I learn more German and understand more and more. Something else that is different is that we are allowed to leave the school during the breaks (well, not leave leave), to enjoy the fresh air or go into town to get food.

Transportation and Punctuality: I go to school everyday by bus, however, not a “school bus.” Every school morning and afternoon, I get on the public bus and it is always packed of school kids-so it seems like a school bus. But on the bus are kids from different schools and can get off wherever they want to. Public buses here are really convenient, you can pretty much go anywhere by bus-but you have to wait sometimes awhile for them to come. The cars here, I was told, are mostly manual and not automatic. And the trains and subways..can’t say anything about them yet because I haven’t been on any so far. As for punctuality, when the bus is scheduled to come at a certain time-it will be there exactly at that time. If you have plans to meet someone, always be there at the schedule time.

Environment: The Germans definitely care about the environment. The streets and sidewalks are always clean, and never littered with trash. They recycle and have individuals recycling bins for paper, glass, plastic, etc. And they conserve water. I really wish we did this in the United States. I never really realized how much we’re wasting until coming here.

So far, I like my new life in Germany. Like I said, it is definitely different. Sometimes it can be a little difficult being in a new culture. So far, I made a lot of mistakes and mispronounced a lot of words. But it’s from these mistakes, that we learn the most.

Below are some pictures of Wertheim, two of the castles in my area, the Main and Tauber rivers, etc.

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Chinese Dumplings

I have less than one week until I depart for Germany, and in exactly one week I will arrive in Germany! To keep my mind off my anxiousness, I decided to write about Chinese dumplings. Why? I absolutely love dumplings, and I especially love Chinese dumplings.

So today I will be writing about the five types of Chinese dumplings (and buns) I mostly came across (and ate) while I was in China: baozi, tangbao, xiaolongbao, jiaozi, hundun (aka wonton).

包子 Baozi is a steam filled bun. Baozi is filled with either meat or vegetable fillings. Two types of baozi are 大包 dabao (big dumplings) and 小包 xiaobao (small dumplings).

baozi

汤包 Tangbao (“soup dumping”) is a large baozi filled with soup and meat (usually). There are two forms of tangbao. The first (traditional) looks like a regular baozi, and is directly bitten into and drunken. The second (modern) is that the soup liquid is drunken by a straw and the skin is eaten afterwards. Tangbao is my favorite Chinese dish. 我要吃汤包!

soup dumpling

小笼包 Xiaolongbao (small basket buns) is a small baozi that is steamed in a small bamboo basket.

xiaolongbao

校子 Jiaozi is a dumpling that is filled with meat and vegetable filling. It is wrapped with a thin piece of dough, and is compressed and compressed with the fingers. There are three types of jiaozi: steamed, boiled, pan fried.

jiaozi

馄炖 Hundun (wonton-Cantonese) is a type of dumpling usually filled with meat. It is usually mixed with spices, salt, and garlic or green onion. Wontons are boiled or deep-fried. In China, each region has its own variation (Beijing, Sichuan, Ningbo, Shanghai, Cantonese..).

wonton

Cibus romanus

For my Latin final, I decided to do a presentation on cibus romanus otherwise known as Ancient Roman cuisine. So let me enlighten you once again..

The main staple of ancient Roman cuisine was wheat. It was used to make breads and porridge. Meals were centered around grains, oil, and wine. Food was eaten with fingers and cut with knives made from anter, wood, or bronze with an iron blade. Spoons were only used for eggs and liquids, and the spoons were made from bronze, silver, or bone.  The spoons had pointed handles, which were used to extract shellfish and snails from their shells. Most food was cooked over an open hearth, (either by means of cauldrons suspended from chains or cooking vessels set on gridirons) where the smoke could escape out a small hole in the ceiling through a wall vent (if the Roman had a culina-kitchen).  Cooking was also known to be done outside by using communal ovens.

Bread in the ancient Roman times varied widely depending on the type of flour used. The best bread was made from wheat flour, while the worst bread was made from bran. Some types of breads were libae, panis primus, panis plebeius, panis rusticus, and siligineus. Libae were smaller rolls, panis primus was a cheap, coarse grain bread, panis plebeius was bread made of coarse wheat flour, panis rusticus was bread made out of bran, and siligineus was white bread. And sometimes, legumes such as beans green peas, and lentils were added to bread. Breads as well as pastries were baked in a circular domed oven.

Figs, apples, grapes, pears, plums, and pomegranates were some of the types of fruits they had back then. The Romans rarely ate berries. Fruits were eaten raw, dried, preserved, and cooked. They were dried or preserved to eat them later for the winter.

Some of the vegetables they had during the Ancient Roman time were artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, cucumbers, garlic, leeks, lentils, lettuce, mushrooms, olives, onions, peas, radishes, and turnips. Beans and peas were important to the diets of the lower class, and they were sold dried or sold hot by street vendors. The Romans believed cabbage prevented drunkenness, cured paralysis, and protected people from the plague. They also believed that garlic gave soldiers courage and that lettuce was a laxative.

The different types of meat the Romans consumed were beef, veal, pork, dormice, goat, hare, lamb, and mutton. The different types of poultry they consumed were chicken, crane, dove, duck, flamingo, goose, ostrich, pigeon, thrushes, and peacock. The poor rarely bought meat, since it was so expensive to buy. Back then, meat was boiled more often than it was roasted. And pork and stuffed dormice were considered delicacies.

There were many types of seafood then. Some of these includes carp, catfish, clams, crab, eel, flounder, lobster, mackerel, swordfish, trout, mussels, octopus, oysters, prawns, rays, sardines, tuna, and shark.

If you were not rich in the Ancient Roman time, food could be rather bland. So the Romans had sauces to spice up their food. Some of these sauces include garum and defrutum. Garum, also known as liquamen, was a fish sauce made from fish entrails and squished into a paste, layered with salt and spices, and fermented for twenty to thirty days. It was poured over eggs, meat, and vegetables, or spread on bread. Defrutum was a concentrated wine used to preserve and sweeten wine and it was also added to fruit and meat dishes. Other sauces made from vinegar, honey, pepper, herbs and spices were also popularly used.
 
The Romans loved to drink wine. However, they drank wine that was watered down, spiced, and heated. Drinking undiluted wine or beer was considered to be barbaric. Some other drinks the Romans drank were calda, mulsum, and posca. Calda was typically a  winter drink made of warm water and wine with spices. Mulsum was a drink made of a mixture of boiled wine and honey. Posca was a drink popular among the lower class. It was made from a diluted wine that was similar to vinegar.
 
Some foods and drinks unknown to the Romans are bananas, chili peppers, chocolate, buttered corn, peanuts, potatoes, rice, tomatoes, coffee, sugar, and tea. It’s not that the Romans did not like these foods and drinks, but rather these were not introduced to humans until later on in time.
 
The Romans usually ate one large meal per day. At first, the meals of ordinary Romans were the ientaculum (breakfast), cena (dinner), and vesperna (a light supper). Later on, however, cena was eaten during the evening and prandium (lunch) was added. Ientaculum was at sunrise or the first hour. Breakfast was a light meal, usually a slice of bread or a cup of  water. However, foods that could be served at breakfast were wheat pancake biscuits; bread dipped in wine; bread flavored with a little cheese, dried fruits or honey; or bread with salt, honey, dates, or olives. Breakfast was followed by prandium at 11 a.m. Lunch usually consisted of a light meal of eggs with bread, cheese, and possibly some meat. Cena was the largest meal of the day, eaten around late afternoon or early evening. At a household, if the master of the house had no guests-dinner could last an hour. If the master of the house did have guests-dinner could last up to four hours. 
 
Meals, however, differed between the poor and the wealthy. Meals for the poor usually consisted of porridge or bread with vegetables or meat, if they could afford it.
 
Meals for the wealthy were divided into 3 courses: appetizer, prima mensa (main course), and secunda mensa (dessert). Some foods served as appetizers were salads, radishes, mushrooms, eggs, oysters, and sardines. The main course consisted of a seafood dish, meat dish, and/or poultry dish. And honey-sweetened cakes and fruit were eaten for dessert. Some popular desserts included stuffed dates, honeyed bread, and itrion-honey biscuits with sesame seeds.
 
It’s interesting how much food, meals, and utensils have evolved since then..
 
 

La cocina ecuatoriana

For my Spanish final, I decided to a powerpoint on la cocina ecuatoriana or the Ecuadorian cuisine in English. So let me enlighten you with some information on the Ecuadorian cuisine. 

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The Ecuadorian cuisine is very diverse. The typical diet of Ecuadorian natives are rice, Andean potatoes, meat, and seafood with fruits and vegetables. Ecuador is famous for its Andean potatoes, seafood, and many exotic fruits such as chirimoya (white, pulpy fruit is full of black seeds with a green outer skin-can get as big as a small melon-skin and seeds are discarded), granadilla (small, pale orange-pink, egg-shaped fruit containing black seeds and gray pulp-skin is discarded), pitahaya (bumpy yellow fruit-the pulp, which is semi-transparent, grayish and full of tiny black seeds-skin is discarded), and oritos (finger bananas-sweeter and richer in taste).

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Ecuador is divided into 3 regions: the Costa, the Sierra, and the Oriente. Cuisines differ from region to region. The Costa region is the fertile tropical lowland west of Andes. Seafood is popular at the coast since the abundance of fish in the flowing rivers and coastal waters. The typical dishes of the coastal regions makes use of the foods typically grown along the coastal plains such as bananas, coffee beans, cacao, sugarcane, and rice. The Sierra region is the Andean region of high mountains, valleys, and basins. In the hill country and mountain valleys, temperate crops such as cereals, especially corn, vegetables, particularly bean and potatoes; and fruits are grown. The typical foods of the Sierra are mainly based off potatoes, corn, cheese, and avocados. The Oriente region is the jungle lowland east of the Andes, almost uninhibited. The main staples of the Oriente region is the yuca also known as cassava (a starchy root, kind of like a potato or yam) and fruit. (1=Coasta, 2=Sierra, 3=Oriente).

 

Ecuador regions
The main meals of the day are el desayuno (breakfast), el almuerzo (lunch), and la cena (dinner).
Breakfast usually starts anytime from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Breakfast usually consists of eggs with potatoes or rice, and served with corn tortillas, coffee, toast, and/or fruit.
desayuno
desayuno huevos y tocino
Lunch is the biggest meal of the day. It starts from noon up to 2 p.m. It is traditionally two to three courses. A soup dish is usually served with rice dish, meat, fish, vegetables, or salad. Then, dessert and coffee can be eaten afterward.
almuerzo ecuatoriano
Dinner is a lighter meal. It starts anytime from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dinner can be as simple as bread and coffee/herbal tea. Dinner can also be as large as lunch, it depends on the human being and/or family.
pan para cena
Let’s talk about some of the different kinds sopas (soups):
Locro de papa is a soup made of potatoes, cheese, and avocadoes.
locro
Chupe de pescado is a fish and vegetable soup.
chupe de pescado
Encebollado is a soup that is made of tuna, yuca, onions, tomatoes and sprinkled with lemon juice.
encebollado
Fanesca is a milky broth served with fish, green beans, lima beans, and a chocho bean.
fanesca
Caldo de leche is a cream soup usually with vegetables.
Menestra is a thicker lentil stew usually served with vegetables and either meat or fish.
• And guatitas is a stew made of pieces of cow stomach and served with peanut sauce and potatoes.
Los mariscos, or seafood, is popular at the coast. Some of the most popular seafood are prawns, shrimp, lobster, shellfish, and squid. A popular seafood dish in Ecuador is ceviche. Ceviche is a a seafood dish that is made of raw marinated fish marinated in lemon or lime and seasonings. And it can be made of fish, shrimp, shellfish, squid, or a mixture of all these seafood.
ceviche de camaron
ceviche de concha
ceviche mixto
Two delicacies known in Ecuador are cuy and caldo de pata. Cuy is roasted guinea pig. It is a traditional dish in the Sierra region, which is usually reserved for special occasions since cuy is not cheap. In Ecuador, guinea pigs are bred for the sole purpose of being eaten, and not as pets.
cuy
Caldo de pata is a broth containing chunks of boiled cow hooves. It is believed by hopeful men to increase virility.
caldo de pata
Some other Ecuadorian dishes are empanadas, tamales, seco de pollo, lomo salteado, bollos de pescado, humita, patacones, llapingachos, and chifles.
Empanadas are small, deep-fried pastries stuffed with meat or potatoes
empanadas
Tamales are a mixture of cornmeal, meat, cheese and spices wrapped in banana leaves
tamales
Seco de pollo is stewed chicken and rice with slices of avocado.
seco de pollo
Lomo salteado is a dish made up of pieces of sirloin that have been soaked in vinegar, spices and soy sauce and then stir fried with parsley, tomatoes and red onions. It is usually served over rice or French fries.
lomo salteado
Seco de chivo is braised goat – or more commonly, lamb or mutton.
Bollos de pescado are fish and peanuts wrapped in banana leaves.
• Humita is steamed corn cake that is are prepared with fresh ground corn with onions, eggs and spices and wrapped in corn husk.
Patacones are made of fried plantains, salt, and oil.
Llapingachos are fried potato pancakes stuffed with cheese and onions.
llapingachos
• And chifles are fried plantain or green banana chips.
chifles
Some desserts in Ecuador include bienmesabe, flan, tres leches, come y bebe, espumillas, dulce de higos, dulce de zapallo, dulce de leche, and alfajores.
Bienmesabe is a coconut cream cake.
bienmesabe
Flan is a baked custard, and there a few varieties in Ecuador such as coconut flan with orange caramel, vanilla flan, caramel flan, and pineapple flan.
flan
Tres leches is a sweet, runny sponge cake. Tres leches literally means “three milks cake,” because it is soaked in three types of milk-evaporated milk, condensed milk, and whole milk.
tres leches
Come y bebe is a drinkable fruit salad composed of papaya, pineapple, banana, and orange juice. Come y bebe literally means “eat and drink,” since you can both eat and drink it.
come y bebe
Espumillas is a meringue cream dessert that is usually made of fruit pulps from guava or guayaba, egg whites, and sugar.
espumillas
Dulce de higos is a dessert made with figs simmered in panela syrup or hard brown cane sugar and spices
Dulce de zapallos is a dessert made with squash or pumpkin simmered in panela syrup or hard brown cane sugar and spices
Dulce de leche is a milk candy sauce that tastes similar to caramel. Dulce de leche, however, is prepared by slowly heating condensed milk and sugar.
• And alfajores are shortbread cookies filled with dulce de leche.
alfajores
With the wide variety of exotic fruits it has, Ecuador also has a wide variety of fruit juices such as jugo (juice) de piña (pineapple), mora (blackberry), maracuya (passion fruit), naranja (orange), sandia (watermelon), naranjilla (a jungle fruit), melon, taxo, guanabana, guava, papaya, tomate de árbol (tree tomato), etc.
jugo de naranjilla
jugo de sandia
Other drinks found in Ecuador are agua (water), chicha, leche (milk), té, café, and refrescos (sodas) such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, Sprite, Fanta, etc. Chicha is a traditional libation (drink poured as an offering), which is found throughout the Sierra region. It is made from fermented corn, rice, or yucca. And in some of the rural parts of Ecuador, chicha makers augment the fermentation process by adding human saliva. They would chew the ingredients and spit them back into the pot.
chicha