eleven foods i will miss

February 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

in no particular order:

1. casado con carne en salsa from soda la casita at the turrialba centro bus terminal with maitreya
an almost overwhelming serving of arroz, frijoles negros, ensalada, platano maduro, and trocitos de carne en salsa + awesome awesome low price of 1800 colones + maitreya’s amazement that we’ve eaten so much = happy allen. they do it big, and they do it right.

2. gallo pinto, 2 huevos fritos y salchichon from soda el banco in puriscal with mason
whenever mason comes into puriscal, we usually meet up for lunch at puris’ best. there’s usually a healthy supply of homemade chilero at hand.

3. enchilada con carne from panaderia barrantes in cerbatana
there is simply no equal to the weekly available enchilada con carne at my local bakery. well seasoned ground beef? check. some spice? double check. and affordable too at 450 colones. tome.

4. agua de pipa bien fria
nothing quenches thirst or staves of dehydration quite like agua de pipa straight from the coconut.

5. jugo de cas
it only ever seems to be available at sodas, and i’m not talking about that powdery replacement. get some.

6. chifrijo from alberto’s bar in puriscal
when you live in the city that produces the best chicharron in all of costa rica, i suppose it follows that you’ll also have access to the best chifrijo, and alberto’s bar in puriscal is where to get it. cuvasos (large type of bean), chimichurri (pico de gallo to you and me), and chicharron on a bed of rice. sounds like a bite of heaven, no? throw in some slices of aguacate. you won’t regret it.

7. pati
i once ate 24 pati in a 2-3 week stretch. no, i do not regret it. for the longest time, i was convinced that the street vendors in siquirres had the best pati, until i met the infamous pati lady in cahuita. it’s a caribbean style pastry in the form of an empanada, filled with ground beef, chile peppers and seasonings. simple yet addicting. can i get a bump? (breaking bad reference. sorry if you don’t understand.) 

8. trenza de canela from pasteleria merayo in turrialba
pasteleria merayo is a chain bakery located in san jose, cartago and turrialba (as far as i know). but not all chains are created equal. head and shoulders above the fray is the turrialba branch, or the real pasteleria merayo as i call it. there you will find the best trenza de canela ever. hyperbole well deserved.

9. rice and beans
still haven’t had enough caribbean food? then get some rice and beans, and ask for it in english. what separates rice and beans from arroz y frijoles is coconut milk, that simple delicacy permeating the rice and the sauce in which the chicken (oh yeah, rice and beans comes with chicken) is cooked. if victory had a flavor, it would rice and beans.

10. sopa de verduras y salchicha de chorizo
get salchicha de chorizo from a carniceria in turrialba, cook it separately from the verduras which could include any combination of malanga, platano verde, papas, chile dulce, and yuca, before adding it all together in the end to make a soup that just feels like being loved by your parents when you’re sick.

11. frijoles from dona isabel’s kitchen in cerbatana
the softest and tastiest frijoles i’ve ever eaten come from a home in cerbatana. why are they so transcedent? well, dona isa cooks with firewood, and  with beans that come from don alvaro’s little farm which means they’re fresh, unlike that sabemas (read: sabefeo) stuff you get in pali. she also cooks the beans with something, whether it’s banano verde, chayote, or oreja de cerdo. que rico!


la expoferia de pejivalle

October 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

panama, panama, part II

September 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

feasts fit for a volunteer

April 23, 2012 § 2 Comments


Rice with sriracha hot sauce
I first tried this delicacy when I was broke in Oakland. It seems as though I was training to be a Peace Corps volunteer before I became one. Sadly, sriracha hot sauce is a bit expensive so use sparingly.

Rice with minced garlic
Oh garlic, how delicious you are! Fry that left over rice with some salt and pepper then brown some minced garlic separately before mixing it in with your rice. For added pop, substitute the salt for some garlic salt. The rice can be substituted for pasta. And if you’re feeling especially rich, throw in a fried egg. Maybe even 2. On second thoughts, 1 will do. We’re on a budget after all.

Rice and egg
Egg. Not eggs.

Rice with chimichurri (essentially, pico de gallo)
A timeless favorite, this dish requires a bit more preparation. With diced tomatoes, chopped onions and minced cilantro, you better have a sharp knife! Add olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Include cabbage or chile dulce for a textural revelation. Admittedly meant for the kind-of-broke volunteer.

Tortilla Chips and Frijoles Molidos con Salsa Lizano
Portable and delicious, “the allen meal” won’t fail to disappoint. Get the cheapest tortilla chips, the Salsa Lizano brand of frijoles molidos, and you’re all set! If you have the time, prepare your own beans (red or black) and tortilla chips. Simply smash up your beans and add Salsa Lizano. Cut up tortillas into squares and fry them. Rico, you say? Why, yes it is.


of picadillos and the symphony

November 9, 2011 § 3 Comments


two weekends ago, host mom, community organizer for the ministerio de cultura, put on a cultural event in cerbatana. the event focused on picadillos–veggie stews–made with native plants chicasquil and sorrillo, in an effort to preserve a part of their heritage. the day ended with an exceptional musical performance by a symphonic group from Pavas.

comida tipica: casados

September 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

today’s dish features red meat or something else neat, like fish. carne en salsa, chuleta, pollo o pescado, you can find this delicious plate at your local soda.

literally translated, ‘casado‘ means ‘married.’ applied to tico fare, this alludes to the inextricable accompaniment of rice and beans and platanos to your protein of choice. more often than not,  some type of salad will be included, usually garnished with nothing more than lime juice, unless of course it’s a beet salad. in tico land, i’ve only ever had beets mixed with mayonnaise and sometimes, if i’m lucky, with hard-boiled egg. if you’re extra lucky, you’ll find a portion of picadillo somewhere on your plate. picadillos are essentially veggie stews usually made with chayote or with papas.

the picture above is of a casado con carne en salsa from soda el diamante en puriscal centro. this iteration of the casado comes along with house-made chips, which covers the beet salad. delicious. don’t ask me how to make it….yet.

making tamales

August 21, 2011 § 2 Comments


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