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Cooking in the Tropics

Wedding Traditions

By at May 26, 2015 | 12:57 pm | 0 Comment

wedding traditions

WEDDINGS: HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE?   My first catering job was at The Loft in NYC, where a group of predominately Irish Catholic waiters began every gig with the question: Chuppa up or chuppa down? We would set up the chairs, raise the Chuppa, wrap a wine glass in a napkin and place it on the floor where it could be broken by the groom at the end of the ceremony.

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Ceviche

By at May 9, 2015 | 2:19 pm | 0 Comment

ceviche

Ceviche is a Peruvian specialty made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with aji or chili peppers.  Prior to colonization, there were no citrus trees in the Americas. Historical record suggests that the raw fish consumed by the Incas was marinated in chicha (a fermented beverage made from corn) or in salt and aji. Legend

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Beans!

By at November 9, 2014 | 11:42 am | 0 Comment

Cooking in the Tropics

Cooking in the Tropics: Beans Beans have been an important source of protein throughout human history. Beans have been cultivated in Thailand since the early seventh millennium BCE (predating ceramics), and the oldest known domesticated beans in the Americas were found in Guitarrero Cave, an archaeological site in Peru, and dated to around the second millennium

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Eggs

By at April 29, 2014 | 8:35 am | 0 Comment

Eggs

IT’S EASTER: LET’S TALK ABOUT EGGS Ever wondered which came first: the chicken or the egg? Well, the ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians and Hindus all believed the world was hatched from an enormous egg. Throughout the ages, the egg has symbolized new beginnings and the spark of creation.  Magic rituals often use eggs to promote fertility, restore virility and

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Turmeric

By at April 3, 2014 | 11:49 am | 0 Comment

Turmeric

Turmeric is the wonder spice of the moment, a tonic for pretty much anything that ails you. Turmeric is botanically known as Curcuma longa, derived from the old Arabic name for saffron (“kurkum”).  Although the color it imparts to food is similar to saffron,  the plant is actually a member of the ginger family and unrelated to saffron. Turmeric is native to tropical

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Onions

By at March 23, 2014 | 11:29 am | 0 Comment

Onions

  I love onions.  Most of the recipes I like start with sautéing onions and garlic in olive oil.  So it is great to know that onions are not only delicious, they are also good for you.  Scanning the web, I found lots of testimonials to the curative power of onions. Onions are one of the earliest known food medicines.  For centuries, onions have been

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Avocado

By at February 24, 2014 | 3:57 pm | 0 Comment

Avocado photo

One of the great cultural advantages of growing up in Southern California in the 60s and 70s was the availability of Hass avocadoes in our local markets and even in our backyards.  Alligator pears from Florida – those big, smooth skinned and watery fruits - were the only avocadoes available on the East Coast then.  Times have changed.  There are dozens of varieties

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Has Fukushima Contaminated All the Fish in the Pacific?

By at September 12, 2013 | 8:12 am | 0 Comment

NOAA map

Tamarindo is a fishing town. Fishing boats bob on moorings in the bay, shore birds fish from the rocks and pelicans dive into the water or glide by in undulating V-formations.  Pangas buzz the shoreline in the early morning, picking up supplies and fishermen from the beach – some headed out for a day of sport fishing for marlin or sailfish, others out to catch dinner.

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Chile

By at June 26, 2013 | 10:33 am | 0 Comment

Chilis

Chile or chili or chilli comes from the Nahuatl language (and not from the country Chile, whose name is derived from the quechua words for snow or cold).  Chilis, a native American species, refers to the fruitt of the plant genus Capsicum, a member of the nightshade family.  Columbus tasted his first chilis in the Caribbean and called them peppers because their flavor

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Tamarindo Catering

By at April 15, 2013 | 5:42 am | 0 Comment

Tamarindo Catering photo

You can always get what you want…if you know how to talk to your caterer. Most people associate catering with big events: weddings, family reunions, milestone birthdays. Have you ever considered hiring a caterer for a romantic dinner for two?  Caterers can make your vacation much more relaxing,  particularly if you are travelling with a group that includes small

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Vanilla

By at April 14, 2013 | 10:38 am | 0 Comment

Vanilla beans

Vanilla used as an adjective is defined by Webster as “lacking distinction, plain, ordinary, conventional.” Strange, because vanilla beans are anything but bland. Scientists have identified over 200 aroma compounds in each pod, giving vanilla its complex aroma and flavor. The sensual aroma of vanilla has been considered an aphrodisiac for centuries, and men are

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Coffee Revisited

By at September 17, 2012 | 3:18 pm | 0 Comment

Costa Rican coffee

When I wrote the first article about coffee for this blog, I had no idea that soon I would be spending many hours of the week working in a coffee shop.  Our friend Eloisa opened Café TIco at the end of June, and we have been minding the shop for the past few weeks while she visits her family in Italy.   Now my days are spent making cappuccinos, mochaccinos and lattes

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Hearts of Palm/Palmito and Pejibaye

By at May 15, 2012 | 2:05 pm | 0 Comment

Hearts of palm

I love hearts of palm.  They are the artichokes of Costa Rica.  One of my most delicious memories is sitting next to a waterfall near the Rio Celeste, eating the heart of a young palm fresh from the forest.  It peeled like string cheese. Hearts of palm are harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees, including coconut, acai palm, sabal and

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Arroz con Mango?

By at February 29, 2012 | 3:40 pm | 0 Comment

Mangos

Today I am sitting in my office, hiding from the incredible wind storm that has been raging around Tamarindo for the past few days.  I’m answering emails, and every once in a while my concentration is broken by what sounds like a bowling alley on my roof.  This sound is as much a part of the season as the wind and the blazing sun of early March.  It is the sound of

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Tamarindo

By at February 20, 2012 | 1:24 pm | 2 Comments

Tamarindo photo

Yesterday just before sitting down to lunch on the beach, I stepped on a ripe tamarind pod.  My friend, a longtime resident of Tamarindo and a very competent Indian cook, confessed that he had never seen a tamarind pod – he always buys his tamarind in a brick. The tamarind tree is native to tropical Africa, and is extensively cultivated in tropical areas throughout

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How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Coffee

By at December 21, 2011 | 4:49 pm | 0 Comment

coffee beans

Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for the coffee aficionados on your list?  Here’re some suggestions from Kelefa Sanneh’s article in a recent issue of The New Yorker (“Sacred Grounds”, November 21, 2011). Gift item Numero 1.  Fresh, whole coffee beans.  Check out www.ticotimes.com/costa-rica-coffee-retailers for a list of online coffee retailers. 

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When Life Gives You Lemons…

By at December 19, 2011 | 11:15 am | 0 Comment

lemon photo

I went to the Auto Mercado this morning and saw a plastic container of Limon Acido (Persa), or where I come from, what is commonly known as lemons.  What a find!  Whenever I see a citrus fruit that resembles a lemon I try it.  Sometimes the flavor is beyond bland, but today the lemons were juicy and flavorful.  I made some vinaigrette for my salad, and grated some

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GO BANANAS!

By at November 13, 2011 | 11:21 am | 0 Comment

Photo of cuadrados

What’s more tropical than a banana?  Although the banana could be an icon for Central America, it is not native to the Americas.  Bananas were introduced by Portuguese sailors who brought the fruits here from West Africa in the 16th century.  Wild bananas exist in extraordinary diversity throughout southern Asia, and cultivation has created even more varieties

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Thanksgiving

By at November 1, 2011 | 8:45 am | 1 Comments

cornucopia drawing

Food is culture. As the 18th century French gastronome Brillat Savarin famously pointed out, “Tell me what you eat and I´ll tell you what you are” You could say that we taste culture, and one of the most compelling reasons to travel is to experience distinctive cuisines.  Although the global market has brought exotic dishes to a restaurant near you, it is very

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