Instead, I'm concentrating on my upcoming jaunt to Costa Rica! I haven't been out of the country in several years, and this trip came up at just the right time. I've been suffering from wanderlust, and now I get to feed it!
And my belly. Because there are plenty of flourless foods that are still delicious (like scotch...and cheese!). But what better way to prep for international delights than to sample the cuisine? I know nothing of Costa Rican food, so I figured I'd try my hand at some simple dishes before leaving, and see how closely I came to approximating them once I get to eat the real thing.
To start, I Googled Costa Rican Food. Immediately you get 80 million hits for something called gallo pinto. Gallo in Spanish (pronounced ga-yo) is a rooster, so you might have assumed this was some combination of chicken and pinto beans. But knowing that pico de gallo in Mexico is a salad of chopped fruits and veggies (not the tomato/onion mixture we know it as here), I imagined there was more than meets the eye here.
Turns out there are neither fowl nor pinto beans in this dish. Pinto means painted, and when this dish of cooked rice and black beans comes together, the rice takes on a little color from the beans (I cheated a bit by using brown rice since I didn't have white rice). A full understanding of the use of the phrase would require a broader understanding of Latin American culture, but Wikipedia gives one explanation.
There are 80 million variations of this dish, based solely on the Google results. This one had cumin and coriander in it, two spices I'm quite familiar with. But also some powdered ginger. That was a new spice combo to me. I love ginger, but have never had it with the other two.
I served this to my family (since I'm technically not supposed to have rice either...). My dad wanted more spice in it, but he can't eat anything without dousing it with some sort of pique (aka, hot sauce). The ladies liked it, though we all admitted that adding green salsa on top really was delicious (dad's bad influence!). My nephew, at the tender age of four, has become quite accustomed to the way Puerto Ricans eat beans (a post for another time), and asked for those beans instead.
I'm sure when I finally get to eat the real thing, it'll be something completely different from what I'm expecting. And that will be awesome.
The Gallo Pinto recipe I followed can be found here.
Exotic food from other countries, especially South American, equatorial countries, tastes like nothing that can be created here. Go and enjoy your pallet, If I went back to Peru, I will still at least “eat a few” Papa amarilla french fries. Unlike any potato that I’ve ever had. Oh, and the pollo ala brasa. Can’t even be compared in the same sentence with even the most expensive recreation of the Peruvian version. Must be the spices that grow down south ;)
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