Cooking and eating through a new culture

Pork, Platanos, and Peace of Mind

Everyone has moments in their life when things have gotten a tad stressful. Be it as it may, I was finding myself in just one of those moments and it is usually at times like these, one may emotionally digress…aka, freak the shit out. I must confess, I did. Now, hindsight is always 20/20 and reflecting back on things, I was a bit of a drama queen. Just a bit. But it is what you DO with these situations that A. Repeats losing ones shit on a regular basis. Or B. Reflects, analyzes, grows and moves on. Needless to say, I fucking hate drama.

Rafa, even though I have yet to get him on a horse, was my knight on dusty flip-flops and armed with some extra cash, a fine bottle of sparkling wine, and a clear lovely day, we certainly set things right.

Start with one seriously awesome chicharrón  place in Paraiso, Piso de Tierra; old school dirt floors with pictures of the family from times gone by. I wish I could give you directions to the place, but alas, Costa Rica has yet to invest in street signage. I suggest just stopping a person on the street. The place is loved by the locals.

The Ritz....we got take out.

The destination: open skies, and breath-taking views of Orosi. Nothing facilitates good digestion and calms frazzled nerves like fresh air and sunshine…well, mimosas too. The Orosi valley is only a short 37 mile drive from San Jose and offers some of the best views on the planet. Dubbed as the most picturesque valley in Costa Rica, it is one of my favorite places to tool around. The hillsides are covered in coffee and dotted with hot springs. If you travel south along the river you will end up in Parque Nacional Tapantí Macizo Cerro de la Muerte, which covers about 600 km² and forms the northernmost section of a massive collection of nature parks that extends into Panama. Awhile back, Rafa and I did a trek into Tapantí and it was stunning.

The view.

The meal: Chicharrón , platanos, frijoles (purred black beans), and escabeche (pickled vegetables). A word about the chicharrón; in a nutshell, it is seasoned deep-fried pork. Some may think of those nasty fried pieces of pig skin but here, they are chunks of pork, usually from the leg, with only minimal amounts of fat or skin drizzled with fresh squeezed lime.  They are tender, salty, savory chunks of piggy bliss. For us, there needs to be a low-fat, high meat ratio for us to return. Add to that some awesome platanos with smooth flavorful frijoles. Plantanos, if you remember, are sections of sweet plantains flattened and fried and are usually treated like a cracker, and in this case, topped with slow cooked, smashed black beans. Finger food at its finest! Of the course, the final finishing touch: a delightful mimosa to settle the stomach and lift spirits.

The meal.

I gotta give snaps to this guy. I won’t brag…too much. There are moments in one’s life that will stand out in the end. Moments of such sweet divine bliss that you will relive each second over and over. It could be a wedding, the birth of a child, or a Sunday afternoon over looking a beautiful valley sharing food with the only person who can make everything right in the world.

The Man.


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