Helado de Coco

Costa Rica and Beyond

I just returned from my week in Costa Rica, a day late.  My flight was canceled and I was diverted to Dallas overnight. I am happy it was Dallas rather than Houston but would have loved to stay longer and visit friends.

I did manage to have some time with Cory though. He happened to be returning from a Colorado trip so we spent some quality time together and he drove me to the airport. Seeing an old and comfortable friend was a nice way to end my vacation.

In any case, I had been interested to learn about the food in Costa Rica. I had visions of eating all kinds of Central American dishes with lots to report back. That isn’t exactly how things went.

I did have some wonderful fruit. I couldn’t get enough of the juicy, sweet pineapple. I think Costa Rican sugar pineapples are the best in the world (sometimes available at Costco). Although papaya isn’t my all time favorite, I really enjoyed it with some lime squeezed over it. I don’t think the mangoes were in season. They were small so we didn’t buy them.

I did try a Guanabana (Soursop) smoothie  
and enjoyed it. I find it hard to describe the flavor, maybe pineapple or unsweetened coconut. If you have the chance, it is worth trying a smoothie. I got my coconut fix the best way I knew how, coconut ice cream! It’s lucky I don’t have this at home or I would weigh 300 pounds.

Coffee…now that is top notch in Costa Rica and my teeth are ready for a bleaching after all the cups I consumed. It is very rich and strong. Loved it!

Pizza…ha..yes there was a lot of pizza in Costa Rica. French fries too. I had expected Rice and Beans and Plantains. It seemed whenever we asked where to find a good place to eat we were directed to a restaurant that had great pizza! French fries were a favorite side to many meals.

Gallo Pinto is considered the National Dish. I tried it a few times and for a vegetarian that is a good choice only if it isn’t made with meat.  There are versions of Gallo Pinto (http://costa-rica-guide.com/travel/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=282&Itemid=489) all over the Caribbean but with different names, beans and rice, pigeon peas and rice and even Hoppin’ John in the Southern US.  Gallo pinto is made by cooking black beans then frying them with rice, onion, red pepper, spices and cilantro. They are often served with eggs.

I did have eggs and they tasted somewhat different than my home bought Omega Eggs. Given the number of chickens in Costa Rica, I would expect they were free range and quite fresh!  The red peppers are also different, a bit softer and very sweet.

Speaking about birds, Gallo Pinto translates to Spotted Rooster in English. There are a lot of roosters milling around the country. Many which seem to enjoying sending out a Cock a Doodle Do at about 4:30 am when you have your windows open and had planned to sleep in. The hundreds of wild dogs, Howler Monkeys and other birds kick in not to be outdone! You know the “if a tree falls in the jungle” question? Well if it was a Costa Rican jungle, somebody would hear it, I guarantee. It would probably be followed by a monkey howl, a dog bark, some birds singing and possibly a cock a doodle do or two.

One of the foods I really enjoyed eating during my trip was whole fish grilled. My sister and I shared our lunches and this was a special treat. I must say however, the meal I liked the best during my visit was cooked by Shay’s friend Mike. He is on a special anti-inflammation diet and this meal was one of his specialties.

The meal consisted of Mahi-Mahi coated with a rub that was given to him by a friend from New Mexico. It was a  combination of ground dried peppers, spices and who knows what from their farm.  It was delicious on the fish.

Alongside the Mahi, he made a salad of avocado, tomato, cilantro and lime. I watched him make it and it looked like all he did was coarsely mash the avocado, add chopped tomato, chopped cilantro and a good squeeze of lime. He may have added salt and pepper but I don’t remember him using it.  The meal was muy delicioso (don’t be impressed, had I not had my sister with me as translator, I would still be lost somewhere in Central America!)!

My foodie experience in Costa Rica may not been the one I had fantasized it would be, still it was an experience as was my whole adventure. I had a great time but I am glad I am home eating my local favorites.  Still, I will dream about the Helado de Coco http://youtu.be/zxKDDP2c9ts . Now those are Spanish words I won’t easily forget!