Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cooking in Costa Rica

Our diet, as well as the local people here, consists primarily of rice, beans, tortillas (corn), chicken, eggs, a small amount of beef, and a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. I love the way we eat here and I'm having fun trying out new and local foods with recipes in Spanish.

I do most of our shopping in Turrialba, but if I need something in a hurry there are little kiosk type shops throughout our neighborhood. Produce trucks drive around the neighborhood and you can buy things from them, but I never know when they will come. They seem to come less now that it is raining more.

On Friday and Saturday there is a large farmer's market in Turrialba. Farmers come from all around to sell their produce. There you can buy any number of fruits and vegetables, some of which I've never seen or heard of. We tried this one vegetable that looks like a giant root w/ bark on the outside and white flesh on the inside. You can cook it like a potato and is very rich and delicious. I made a kind of pizza crust using this vegetable that was first cooked then mashed and topped with vegetables covered in cheese. It was a veggie pizza! I could hardly stop eating it.

A very common meal for us is home-made refried beans (very easy to make and w/o any fat either), scrambled eggs, and cheese (like "squeaky cheese" in the States) on a corn tortilla with home-made salsa. If we are missing American food we usually have French toast, oatmeal, or hot dogs. Peanut butter is a treat and we try to keep it in the cupboard. It is only available in Turrialba, but the last time we went shopping the store was out of Peanut Butter.

I cook on a propane stove. It took me some days to learn how to light the thing, but now I have it down. I will be a pro at using our camp stove in the States! The oven is a little tricky since it does not tell you any temperatures. I tried to find an oven thermometer in Turrialba, but was told that it would be very expensive. So now I just babysit any food I'm cooking and adjust the heat as needed to prevent things from burning.

All said, I am really having fun with cooking--much more than I ever did back home. It is always an adventure!


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