Fanesca is a special Ecuadorian soup served only during the week leading up to Easter. It is an elaborate, rich soup made with 12 different beans and grains (to represent the 12 disciples). Salt cod (cooked in milk) provides the protein, since this soup is consumed during Lent, when many Latin American Catholics abstain from eating meat. It's usually served with fried plantains, hard boiled eggs and empanadas (floating in the soup or on the side).
Noted author Calvin Trillan wrote a hilarious piece for the New Yorker magazine about his obsession with fanesca and a memorable quest for the soup (while struggling to master Spanish) on a trip to Ecuador.
For those motivated enough to try to make fanesca themselves, Laylita's Recipes (a fantastic blog about Ecuadorian food) has a beautifully written recipe for fanesca with lots of photos, and explanations of the ingredients and their North American substitutes. Her recipe is available in both English and Spanish.
Fanesca Recipe from Laylita's Recipes
Vegetarian Fanesca Recipe
More Recipes from Ecuador
Letters from Ecuador: Speaking of Soup, by Calvin Trillin
Feeding a Yen - Calvin Trillin
The Tummy Trilogy - Calvin Trillin