Of course, the only post that I have had the time to put together is the post about the food. Probably because it’s the easiest to throw together and there isn’t much though behind it. The other posts, I really want to give you all a feel for what I experienced so it’s taking some time (plus, studying 8-10 hours a day + gym + coaching lacrosse + that thing called sleep = minimal time to self.) Anyways, I figured Wednesday would be the perfect day to link up with Peas & Crayons with my first ever WIAW post, and chat about the foods that I ate while in Costa Rica! Be prepared, there are a lot of rice and beans…
For the first two weeks of my time there, we were staying at a Convent where the Sisters would make us amazingly, delicious meals. Breakfast was always at the Convent. When we were working during the day, people would come and make us lunches at our respective facilities. And dinners were mainly at the Convent, with the exception of a few nights when we had the night to ourselves and could go enjoy dinner at local restaurants. I didn’t snap pictures of every night’s meal (I really only took a few), but I can just chat about some of the ones that I remember!
Our typical breakfast consisted of: a large pot of “Gallo Pinto”, aka, rice and beans, fresh fruit (generally pineapple with either bananas, pineapple, or mango), cheese slices with ham, freshly baked bread with amazing guava or pineapple jam, cereal, and freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee.
There were a few occasions where the Sisters made us huevos (eggs) and occasionally, there was a breakfast meat, which they called sausage, but here in America we call it a hot dog. It was still delicious and we always filed our plates!
There were a few occasions where we were up and out the door by 5:30am. In those cases, the Sisters would throw together some ham and cheese sandwiches for us to grab and take with us on the bus. We absolutely never left the Convent hungry, that’s for sure!
Like I mentioned before, our lunches were delivered to our work places each day by the same people. Each day was something different and it was always incredible and leaving us wanting more (and we never hesitated to go grab seconds!) We did have a few lunches with the Sisters, including this one which was one of our favorites:
On the day that I was sick and couldn’t go in to work, the woman who normally cooks for us delivered my lunch to the Convent – how sweet! It was probably one of my favorite meals of the trip:
The next one was another favorite of the Manos group… We couldn’t get enough of those green mango topping salsa that they put on top of the salads! So tart and delicious! Also, those frijoles – OMG so good. I could have just eaten a big plate of the frijoles with the chips.
Those are the only pictures I snapped, but most of the other lunches consisted of: chicken and rice (another CR staple meal), with salad and plantain chips; casserole made with hearts of palm, rice, and lots of cheese that everyone raved about(I was given rice and chicken – lactose problems.); and pasta with a meat sauce and salad on the side.
The Sisters never disappointed with how amazing their meals were and the dinners were no different! Every night, our meal was served with a new kind of “Fresca”, which literally translates in to “fresh”, but refers to juice in CR. These juices were unlike anything I’ve ever had before – no added sugars, no added preservatives, nothing but literally, fruit. We were told that each of the juices are heavy with antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients – which was great since half of us were sick half of the trip.
The juices ranged anywhere from papaya, to mango, to teas, to fruits we had never heard of, but it was always delicious! Juice in the states just doesn’t taste good now that I’ve experienced the real stuff!
As you can see in these two pictures above, dinners generally consisted of a salad, rice, a vegetable or bean, and then some sort of protein. The top one is tilapia (a class favorite), the one above was some sort of beef (probably a least favorite). Some other dinners were a meatloaf (with hard boiled eggs and hotdogs in the middle??), pasta with ground beef and sauce, cheesy enchilada/lasagna type food (I was given chicken and rice), baked chicken wings and drumsticks, and sometimes just the rice and beans mixture with a protein. They were always (relatively) balanced meals and we were so grateful every night for the handwork the Sister’s put in to make us these amazing meals.
A few nights, we were able to escape the confines of the Convent and get out in to the town for dinner! On the first night we could go out, a group of us headed to an Italian restaurant in the local shopping center. We had appetizers of calamari, an antipasti plate (pictured below), and a cheese flatbread. Then for dinner, me and Olivia split one of the pizzas (can you guess which side is mine? Hint: the side without cheese.)
When we went to downtown San Jose, we all went to dinner at a place recommended by our professor as having “the best sangria in town”. So naturally, our class had to check it out for our selves. (The verdict: the sangria was pretty dang good, and strong.)
For dinner, I got a chicken meal that came with rice and beans, pico de gallo, and corn on the cob. It was pretty good, but nothing to write home about.
If there’s one thing that you should know about Costa Rica and the food, is the Lizano.
Lizano is a “salsa” that was created in Costa Rica and is a staple in most kitchens (it’s a main ingredient in the Gallo Pinto). You may be able to find it at certain grocery stores, but it is mainly distributed in Costa Rica and Central American countries, I believe. It is a similar consistency/color to steak sauce, and the taste I would say might be comparable to Worcestershire sauce with a little different kick to it. We used that stuff on EVERYTHING. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever. We all came home with a bottle or two, and even more for gifts.
As for the vacation part of our trip… the meals were much more laid back and simple. By that I mean: breakfasts were usually eggs and toast or whatever our hangover allowed us to eat. Lunches were generally on-the-go type lunches since we were either by the pool, at the beach or walking around town. Those consisted of a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the pizza place across the street, and occasionally just beer. The day that we went white-water rafting, it included lunch and they brought us to this hole in the wall/back alley/someone’s backyard to eat lunch – but oh my goodness, it was amazing. BBQ ribs with yuca and beer.
Our first night in we threw a party for our professor. So I grilled up some hot dogs while the rest of the crew made tons of sangria and guacamole and mango salsa.
We did make it out to dinner a few nights during the vacation portion of the trip. One night consisted of beer and fish tacos:
The other night we went out I didn’t snap any pictures – but I had a chicken sandwich (I was over CR food at this point I’m thinking.)
The only other thing that I could include on here is the multiple happy hours spent at our main spot in the shopping center. Margaritas, lots of margaritas.
And this basic picture of my signature CR drink (that I can’t think of the name of to save my life… too many perhaps?)…
Phew, that was a long post. My apologies. Hopefully soon I can get back at ya with all of the rest of my trip! Happy Wednesday!