What I love about my study abroad program is that each week there are organized afternoon cultural activities. For example, the city tour happened to be one of these programs. In my opinion, the cultural activities provide a unique, hands-on experience to learn more about the country and host culture.
Hands-down, one of my favorite parts of traveling is sampling traditional foods that are significant to the country. To say I was excited to learn how to cook traditional Costa Rican dishes AND get to eat them is an understatement.
After my Tuesday class wrapped up, myself and the rest of Group B walked to a Sol student’s host house to learn how to cook.
Once we arrived, everyone suited up in chef hats and aprons. Then, Rosemary (host mom and expert cook) poured everyone a traditional fruit juice called fresco de cas. The drink contains water, cas (fruit), sugar, and ice. After having a refreshing drink, we began the cooking.
First up: chimichurry. Those who live in the United States would know this as pico de gallo, which typically comes with a main dish at a Mexican restaurant. I assumed the chimichurry would taste the same as pico de gallo, however, it tasted different! The Costa Rican version has tomatoes, onion, sweet chili, cilantro, and lime. I am not sure what caused the difference in taste. Perhaps the fresh produce had something to with it.
Next, our group mixed up Gallo Pinto. This is a common version of rice and beans that is served for breakfast here in Costa Rica. The dish contains black bean, rice, cilantro, celery, garlic, sweet chili, onion, sazon completo (mixed spices purchased at the store), and salsa Lizano (Costa Rican salsa).
To wrap up the main meal, everyone made their own corn tortilla. The corn tortillas require water, queso (specifically queso fresco), masa (specific type of flour), and sazonador (cannot find the English translation). Once everyone had their tortillas flattened, Rosemary cooked them on the skillet.
After a VERY filling main dish, everyone learned how to make granizados. This is a typical dessert that you can find being sold in a market or on the beach. The dessert contains crushed/shaved ice, flavored syrup, sweetened and condensed milk, and milk powder. I cannot say that I thoroughly enjoyed this dessert. I am more of a chocolate girl!
For our last meal of the day, everyone made fried platanos, which we then topped with beans. Necessary ingredients for the fried plantains include ripe bananas cooked with the peel, cinnamon, vanilla, and flour. For the beans, ground black beans and queso fresco for topping.
Lastly, we all learned, how to prepare coffee the traditional Costa Rican way. Basically, the grounds are placed in a sock and boiling hot water is poured over the grounds.
Thank goodness I do not eat this way every day. I would have to be rolled all the way back home come December.
Leave a positive impression,