Reflection: Food For Thought

“How much does it cost?” “Where can I get it?” And, “What is it?” are the thoughts that have been racing through our minds. But thoughts of tourists usually include thoughts about food.

In the Miami airport, while waiting for our flight to Costa Rica, we had an abundance of food options. Paying $7 for our lunch sandwiches was still a stretch for our college budgets. However, after taking a sip of the piping hot gingerbread latté we had purchased at Starbucks made us all forget about our finances. Then, I found strawberry puffs, my favorite travel food item. This fruity gummy is a perfect pick me up. A couple of bags later and I was ready for our flight and any hungry days Costa Rica might bring.

A plane ride and bus trip later, we arrived in Liberia to the sight of the golden arches of McDonald’s. The familiar restaurant assured our group that we would not go hungry on our adventure.  In Liberia, the familiar sights of Subways and Burger Kings could be seen lit up along the streets.  We did not have to settle for fast food. We got to experience our first true Costa Rican meal at Eladio’s Place.

A homemade feast was laid out before us. There was rice and beans galore. There were several mysterious bottles that when poured upon rice made an excellent addition to the dish.  We discovered this was typical for many Costa Rican meals.

Our plates also had fried plantains, chicken and salad with interesting dressing. The salad contained white chunks of what I assumed was cheese. A bite later and advice from Aleda, the cook, and I discovered I was munching on the heart of palm. It certainly lacked the dairy flavor I was anticipating but the fresh and earthy taste was slightly slimy but highly interesting.

Breakfast brought more delightful surprises with farm fresh eggs, avocados, fruit from the local farmers market and homemade tortillas that we ate with more rice and beans.

Soon we were eating lunch out on the town. All of the menu options were comparable to American prices, yet the names of the dishes were just a little more difficult to pronounce. We were told about the delights of Costa Rican Christmas dinners. Everyone was disappointed to have missed the meals our tour guide described.

Our meal consisted of rice and beans again and all-natural fruit drinks. They are made with real fruit, water and sugar.  Watermelon, orange, pineapple, banana and papaya are common flavors. I plan on sampling each flavor by the end of the trip. However, the drink of choice is always water. Water goes well with any hike or meal.

Snack time came and went, with our group visiting the local dairy facility in Monteverde. Here we found homemade ice cream. Its rich, creamy flavor could not be rivaled by U.S. ice cream. The cup of cookies-n-cream ice cream was an explosion of vanilla and chocolate cookie, which was simply delicious.

Costa Rica holds an abundance of potential good eats. Chocolate, baked goods and more fresh fruit will be in our future. Of course, rice and beans will always be waiting on our dinner plates.

—   Breanne Brammer

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