I have to admit that I do not have the words to even begin to convey how wonderful a time we had in Costa Rica. It is a feast to the senses with its luscious, colourful and changing flora, as well as a delight to the taste buds with its inviting dishes.
We were very lucky to make friends there who shared their homes, their lives, their knowledge and their food with us and we will be eternally grateful for the privilege. We will never forget the breakfast and lunch they prepared for us, the gallo pinto, the ‘sweaty chicken’ or the refreshing and rehydrating green coconut water served to us straight from the fruit following a walk through their farm.
Because of the thousands of miles that separate us, it is this glorious food that brings us closer to our friends every time I cook with the recurring flavours that make up the dishes we love.
Coriander is king and adds to the freshness brought by the peppers and the limes. The sweet onions and garlic, combined with dried herbs, are used to season meats and fish before grilling, adding a simple but Costa Rican flavour I had never enjoyed before as a combination, and now always to be repeated. In fact, I now keep a little pot of this seasoning (see Casado recipe) in the spice cupboard at all times. A little shake and memories come flooding back in a flash.
You cannot mention Costa Rican food without mentioning rice and beans. Now I have to put my hands up here: I fell off the wagon there…on a large scale. Rice and beans are served with everything because they go…with everything! And their delicious coconut flan is well…delicious!
Now on the straight and narrow, I want to be able to enjoy the dishes without paying for it. So I have to apologise to the whole nation for ‘paleofying’ your dishes and omitting rice and beans from the combinations used.
In my defence, it came from a good place: a desire to enjoy your lovely food, bring the sunshine into our kitchen and our friends around our table. So I hope you will forgive me and that I have done your food justice.