On Food and Cooking – Costa Rica

When we packed up the house in Toronto, it was shocking and upsetting how much food we had to throw out. I felt sick to my stomach looking at the amount of food waste. Since we started traveling, we’ve mostly had to walk to the grocery store, which of course limits how much we can buy in one trip. We managed to leave Ocotal CR (our first stop) with a bare fridge and left behind only a small amount of dry beans for the next people. For the most part, this has continued to be true at each place we have left so far and I’m learning a lot about how to be mindful about what we are buying to avoid food waste. We still tend to have quite a bit of leftovers from each meal as it’s really difficult to predict how hungry the boys will be from meal to meal.

I have been doing significantly less of the meal planning and preparation than I was used to at home. We still cook most of our meals ourselves because eating meals out all the time would be cost prohibitive. Robin and I do almost all the meal planning and shopping together and he’s been preparing about half of the meals. This is new territory for me but I’m getting used to it – perhaps too used to it 😉

While we were in Costa Rica, we tried to cook meals that are typical of the culture and when we did eat meals out, we mostly ate typical Tico food as well – at least Robin and I did – it was difficult to convince the kids to opt for something other than burgers and pasta when it was on offer. A typical Costa Rican meal is called Casado and it consists of rice and beans, vegetables and a protein. It’s a very simple, balanced meal and Robin was very pleased to be able to eat like this almost all the time as this is his preferred type of meal.

We had the opportunity to try 2 of our top 100 foods while we were in Costa Rica. The first was #28 Gallo Pinto – we tried making it on our own as well as sampling it from a local soda and a home cook at one of the airbnbs we stayed at. Gallo Pinto is made from precooked rice, beans, red pepper, onion and a seasoning called Salsa Lizano that tastes a little like Worcestershire sauce (but not quite). This is the recipe I used and it turned out pretty close to what we had elsewhere. Everyone enjoyed it although I don’t think the kids are going to be opting to switch from their usual breakfast to Gallo Pinto anytime soon.

Our attempt at Gallo Pinto
Gallo Pinto that came as part of a typical Tico breakfast at one of the places we stayed – Finca de las Lluvias de Gloria – in Monteverde. Hermida was our host and she was a wonderful cook!

The second food from our top 100 list that we got to try in CR was #73 Granizado – basically a snowcone. You can get these anywhere, in any flavour, with or without powdered milk for about 1000 CRC (~$2.30 CAD). The boys tried several from the many cart vendors on the beach in Ocotal and Coco and then closed out our time in Costa Rica with a mint granziado from a place called Penguino Granizado in Jaco (Kieran is a huge penguin fan, so this was a big deal for him). I’m not personally a big fan of the granizado but it was naturally a favourite for the boys.

Top row – mint granizado from Pinguino, bottom row – beach granizado, both cherry con leche (milk).

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