Fruits of the Forest

Costa Rica copyFor all of its apparent blandness the Tico diet is fairly health and for the most part is home grown.  Driving along the highways and byways it is easy to find a roadside store offering all manner of good things for the larder

Vegetables are utilized mostly in soups and stews, or, as a side dish of a casado meal, fresh cabbage, tomatoes, and carrots make up the typical salad. Corn is one of the most favored vegetables, and it is usually prepared in the form of tortillas and corn pancakes.

Corn on the cob is sometimes roasted, to become elote esado, or boiled, when it is known as elote cocinado.

Empanadas similar to those found in Argentina are corn turnovers filled with beans, cheese, and maybe potatoes and meat.

Patacones are fried mashed plantains with a liberal sprinkling of salt.

Fruits found at roadside stores include:

  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Piña (pineapple)
  • Sandía (watermelon)
  • Melón (cantaloupe)
  • Moras (blackberries)
  • Limones (lemons)
  • Guayaba (guava)
  • Granadilla (passion fruit)
  • Aguacates (avocados)

Other fruits are a little less well known and include:

Marañon is a curious fruit whose seed is the cashew. The skin of the fruit is bitter, but the flesh delicious. Cashews must be roasted before they are consumed; a raw cashew is poisonous.

Zapotes are a brown fruit resembling an oversized avocado in appearance and texture. Unlike the avocado their pulp is very sweet and bright red-orange in color.

Guanábanas (soursop) are textured, green football-sized fruits with white fibrous flesh. Some eat the fruit plain, but most prefer it as a juice or with milk.

Pipas (green coconuts) are extremely popular among Ticos. By chopping the top with a machete and tapping the hollow core with a straw, you have a refreshing drink.

The pejibaye, a relative of the coconut, is a bizarre fruit. It’s flesh is thick and fibrous, and resembles the taste of chestnut or pumpkin. They are usually boiled in salt water, peeled, halved, pitted, then eaten, perhaps best described as an acquired taste!

CostaRica_0906The manzana de agua is a dark red, pear-shaped fruit that is full of juice and quite refreshing.

The palmito (palm heart) is the inner core of a small palm tree and makes a great delicacy as a cocktail.

Carambola (starfruit) is a yellow-green tender fruit that when cut across makes slices that look like five-pointed stars. The taste is lightly sweet and juicy.