Sunday, October 19, 2008

Musings on Costa Rican Food.

Alright alright, it's been almost two months since I got back from my trip to Costa Rica and I'm just now posting photos. Whatever. I'm even further away from actually writing the cover story and the reason why I went to Costa Rica in the first place. When I travel I am usually preoccupied with thoughts of food. I worry about when the next meal will be served, if it'll be too spicy and if I'll like it (which I always do). I guess I like my life's mundane predictability (yes, I eat a sandwich for lunch just about every day). I've gotten better with traveling for Home & Away as the journalists are grossly overfed on organized press trips--not that I'm complaining. And Costa Rica wasn't much different. I must confess that I'm not too familiar with Central American dishes. I mean, I get the Mexican food: enchiladas, mole, burritos, tequila, etc. Unfortunately, I can't lie that I wasn't too impressed with Costa Rican fare. I actually liked the food in Honduras better, even though it may have given me traveler's diarrhea for the first time ever in my life. The baleadas I ordered to the Habitat for Humanity worksite were amazing: a tortilla filled with beans, peppers, rice, eggs and mild goat cheese. In Honduras we ate at restaurants, while for the first couple days in Costa Rica we ate from a buffet. So that's probably the reason why I'm not ranting and raving. But that doesn't mean Jenny and I didn't share a few good meals. We did decide to splurge on a nice meal at Volcano Arenal. The photo above is/was a plate of ceviche. Ceviche (for those who don't know) is what I would call a "salsa" of fish, lime or lemon juice and usually cilantro, some peppers, onion or any sort of variation. The thing that would likely freak my dad out is that the fish is "cooked" by the acid in the lemon or lime juice not by conventional heat. But it lends the ceviche an incredibly fresh flavor. We destroyed the appetizer before I even had time to snap a photo. The remainder of the meal was memorable, but plating wasn't so great (thus no photos). The only bad thing about the restaurant was the absolutely ridiculous music. They were playing Kenny G-instrumental versions of Bette Midler songs in a sorry attempt to create an ambience. Yikes. Below is a photo of me rolling my eyes and wanting to gag myself.

Another thing I was completely fascinated with was this banana factory we stopped at. It happened to be a Del Monte packing "plant," which made me even more excited. I was like, "We eat these bananas! I used to peel those stickers off the fruit and put them on my shirt!" I'm not really sure why this intrigued me, considering I live in the middle of an ocean of corn stretching from Illinois to Eastern Colorado, so farming shouldn't be out of the ordinary. And even more especially since I've been trying not to eat fruit from the nether reaches of the globe. So I'm pretty sure I don't actually eat anything from Del Monte.

Another reason why not to eat these bananas: The factory with in the middle of rows and rows and rows of banana trees. However, our tour guide warned us not to step one foot in the plantation. Why? Because the trees are heavily sprayed with "toxic" chemicals that would make us sick/possibly kill us. Hmm ... But this produce is somehow safe to eat. OK?

I don't know who told me everything would be cheaper in Costa Rica, but they were wrong. Maybe it was because we were staying at resorts so all the cocktails cost what they would in the States and were just as diluted, maybe we just got hosed for being tourists. Our driver stopped for lunch at the place pictured below, and it was only $5 for both our meals. And I thought it was one of the best meals we had the entire trip, complete with fried plantains, mixed rice and fish. The best/strangest part of the meal was the "vanilla juice" we had, recommended by our driver. It tasted like melted ice cream. Yum.
Fortunately, there's more than one reason to visit Costa Rica (i.e. monkeys, turtles, sloths, beaches, volcanoes, etc.)


Anonymous said...

Once again, your poor father becomes a foil for picky eaters.

Jenny said...

you forgot to mention how crazy they are about their cafe! Now that's some strong stuff. Nevertheless, you drink at least three cups a day...because you can.

Lainey Seyler said...

wait, what are you talking about dad? were you a foil again? you are so oppressed.

i just finished that pound of coffee. oh so good.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lainey, love your blog. Good bananas picture. Have you gained any weight since you started your blog, has anyone gained any weight since you started your blog?

Lainey Seyler said...

you know, i haven't weighed myself in a while. but i still have room in my pants--that's the true judge of weight-gain, right?

i did weigh myself after costa rica--i was a bit concerned about all those fried bananas. i was surprised to see that the amount i confess to weigh is what i actually weigh. go me!