Please Pass the Salsa Lizano

Well thankfully I didn’t gain any pounds while in Costa Rica, but it certainly wasn’t my diet that kept it that way. It’s a good thing I was working on farms, because for three months I dealt with “comida tipica.” Costa Rican food is good flavor wise (not sure if it’s very healthy) the first few times, but after a while everything started looking and tasting the same.

Breakfast

gallo pinto with fried eggs, bread, and ripe plantains

100_2028gallo pinto with scrambled eggs, fried plantains, and cream

100_2038Banana Pancake

Eating out: Lunch/Dinner 

Very typical plates that you can get at any Costa Rican restaurant or soda (basically a kitchen with a bar all over Costa Rica, in the countryside and city) are called casados (marriage). Generally you get rice, beans, salad, some sort of meat in a sauce, and a refresco for $3-$5.

100_2048Rice, black beans, picadillo of squash, pork, and cabbage slaw

100_2383Fried yuca, rice, shrimp with onion and pepper, plantain, and salad

Chicken fajitas (without tortillas), black beans, rice, salad

Eating at the farm

100_2009My birthday dinner: meat, pickled vegetable salad, rice, beans, and tortilla chips

100_2457Typical Costa Rican soup: root vegetables (potato, yuca, taro, carrots, sweet potato), pear squash, chicken, pork, and culantro. This was for the New Year’s party

100_2416Tamale for Christmas: drop a spoonful of a cornmeal, salt, and water mixture on a banana leaf, add a tablespoon of cooked rice, one slice of carrot, a green bean, a sliver of sweet pepper, and a cube of pork, wrap banana leaf around tamale to make a package, tie up and boil

Honestly a lot of work for not a whole lot of flavor. One of the most boring foods I ate. Adding some salsa Lizano helped.

Pizza night: pizza with sausage, pineapple, onion, different vegetables, and fresh milk cheese. Very difficult to find any other kind of cheese in Costa Rica

100_2346Empanadas filled with a rice and bean mixture

100_2065Homemade cheese

Dessert and Snacks

100_2060Lot’s of treats at the farm all the time. They call this “pan” (bread), but really it was like a cookie. Luz did a lot of baking because she really likes sweets. Everything she baked she made with margarine. There was no butter in the house until a French couple came.

100_1760Tamal: a sweet dessert/snack made with cornstarch, sugar, coconut,  margarine, milk, and cream. You can find this in every bakery in Costa Rica.

Here’s my birthday cake. The cakes in Costa Rica are a horrible mixture of sugar, sugar, and flour. The frosting is a sickly sweet whipped cream. This one had a layer of dulce de leche which is a caramel condensed milk.

Whole Foods

100_1997Here is yuca, which ended up being one of my favorite root vegetables. It has to be cooked within a few days of harvesting. It has a potato-like texture but the flavor is different. It’s great boiled and then fried or grated and cooked like hash browns.

100_2439One day we spent several hours shucking red and black beans.

Every week Luz and Memo would vend bananas at the local farmer’s market. This meant we would eat the bananas they didn’t sell. It was common for us to eat green bananas. You eat is just like a potato, peel, boil in salt water, and eat.

There really weren’t too many foods I didn’t recognize at La Feria (farmer’s market in San Isidro de General). All the fruit in Costa Rica was so fresh. I ate a lot of bananas, oranges, papaya, and pineapple.

Seasonings

Honestly eating in Costa Rica gets really repetitive. They don’t use a whole lot of spices. They don’t try other cuisines. They know cilantro, garlic, sweet pepper, onion, cinnamon, salsa lizano, and sazon completa. Salsa lizano is the Costa Rican version of worcestershire sauce. A combination of water, vinegar, sugar, and vegetable concentrates. At the first farm there wasn’t even black pepper. And it’s hard to find spicy food in Costa Rica. I’m glad to be back home where there’s so much more variety.

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