Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Food of Costa Rica

As you know, I just returned from a vacation to Costa Rica. One of the things I love about traveling is trying the food - I think a country's food says so much about its culture and society. (Beans and ceviche = yummmmy!)

One of the nicest things about being on vacation is taking the time to cook and eat. There's no rush, so we may as well sit down and enjoy every meal! 

This vacation we had an interesting mix of food cultures going on: American, Israeli, and Costa Rican (of course!). 

The H's are Israeli, so we ate a lot of salad. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner! (Breakfast salad? Yep - and it's good!) An Israeli salad involves veggies chopped up really small, and no lettuce. We did salads with avocado, bell peppers, cucumbers, onion, cabbage, tomatoes, and whatever else there was on hand. 
Mrs. H taught me how to make a really yummy grilled eggplant an tahini dish. You grill the eggplants with the skin on, then scoop out the insides, then cover them with tahini sauce (which is sunflower seed paste, lime juice, and parsley all mixed up - kinda like Middle Eastern peanut butter). 

You already know what American food is, so there's no need to blog about it...
Costa Rican food, on the other hand, involved completely new things for me! Ceviche = awesome! 

This is one of those things I've see on Food Network and Top Chef, but never actually tried. Until now. As you drive the windy roads of Costa Rica, plywood signs scream 'Ceviche' at every turn. At first that was a wee bit suspect to me...like buying sushi from an un-refrigerated truck...but it's actually totally legit! Ceviche is "cooked" by marinating chopped fish in lime juice, then flavored with cilantro, onions, and tomatoes. It's served cold and refreshing with chips. So the fish doesn't taste or feel raw at all. Check out this ceviche recipe and make it yourself. 
Comida Tipica (typical dish) is beans and rice with fish or chicken. Here's Sigal, hungry for lunch, making a face that my mama would say "you probably shouldn't do that in public."

There's also a lot of camarones (shrimp) - this is a plate of arroz con camarones (rice with shrimp). Costa Rican food isn't very spicy, but they always give you a variety of hot sauce to heat up your own plate!

Like most Central and South American food, beans are a major staple. And I LOVE beans! This black bean dip made a fantastic appetizer (I wish I knew what was in it...but I don't...sorry!). It's served with plantain fritters - fried plantains (which taste like a cross between a banana and a potato), smashed flat, then fried again. They are sooooo good!!! I could eat this combination for every meal, no problem. 

And guacamole with corn tortilla chips. Smooth and avocado-y and good!

And there's dessert of course! This lemon cheesecake is vanilla cookies layered with some sort of creamy lemony  delicious cheesecake mixture. Rich and cold and yummmmm! 
So I may have eaten a teeny tiny bit too much this vacation...but no regrets - it was so worth it!


In other news, tomorrow is the last day to enter my GIVEAWAY. Please do it! You know you want some pillow cookies!