Saturday, December 12, 2009

Costa Rica - Rich Coast

When I was in college my friend Karla went to Costa Rica on a class trip. She came back and described to me how she found a cockroach in her hotel room the size of a Buick. She must have told me other stuff about her trip, the country’s beauty and diverse ecosystems, but quite honestly, I don’t remember anything else.

I was so fascinated by the size of Costa Rica’s creepy crawlies that I missed learning about this amazing country. Costa Rica, which means “rich coast,” is ranked first in the Happy Planet Index and the greenest country in the world. The government has plans to become the first carbon neutral country by 2021.

It’s also peaceful. In 1948 it abolished its army and has managed to avoid violence that has plagued other countries in the region. Costa Rica’s military budget now goes towards security, education and culture. Their president, Oscar Arias, has something in common with Obama. In 1987 he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end civil wars in several other Central American countries.

The staple food in Costa Rica is gallo pinto, rice and black beans and is considered the national dish. It can be eaten as part of any meal but seems to be a favorite for breakfast. It’s a simple recipe composed of rice, black beans and cooked together with onion and fresh cilantro.

For our Costa Rican meal I made gallo pinto and served it with fried eggs and toast. Even though we were eating this as our dinner the kids thought it was very strange to eat rice and beans for breakfast. I liked the idea. My friend, Ana, who is from Mexico, once cooked me breakfast and she served me eggs with hot sauce and refried beans. I thought it was delicious!

The night of our Costa Rican meal we had our first snow. It was just a dusting but exciting nonetheless. But I think I would prefer the climate in Costa Rica. It sounds like a marvelous place to live, minus the enormous bugs.

Recently I realized that most of the countries I write about are war-torn and corrupt. It was refreshing to write about Costa Rica’s peace and environmental awareness. It gave me a better outlook on the world and humanity.

Thank you Costa Rica.

Gallo Pinto

1 lb black beans (I cheated and used 1 can)
Fresh cilantro, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cans of chicken broth
2 cups of white rice
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP vegetable oil

Add oil to a large pan and sate dry rice for 2 minutes. Then add half the onions and cilantro and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer until rice is tender (you may have to add some water). Once rice is cooked, sauté the rice with the beans and the rest of the onions and cilantro in vegetable oil.

Sprinkle some fresh cilantro on top before serving.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your comments about Costa Rica's peaceful state and its plans to become carbon neutral. Gives some hope to this crazy world. (and the food is lovely too of course)