Considering my prior experiences, I was surprised to hear from my doctor on how eating all this deep fried Costa Rican food could actually be good for my health. And yet here we were, eating all the gallo pinto our hearts can take in the streets of San Jose, and I was being told about nonagenarians strong enough to get their own firewood and do their grueling routines out in the wilderness.
I know, I know, it doesn’t make sense. How can this stuff be healthy when it’s all so deep fried (making it taste so good)? But apparently, the secret is in the food that ended up becoming their staples.
Black beans and squash, both found in gallo pinto as well as other dishes, are filled to the brim with antioxidants. They have rice and meat, but their culture fosters moderation. Also, other dishes use a lot of basically healthy foods like eggs, onions, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, etc. Even their corn tortillas, which are not like the commercial tortillas we are used to, but based on grains that have been around as long as 3500 years ago, are rich with unfiltered vitamins, minerals and proteins, that sustained Mesoamericans then and keep modern day Latin Americans healthy now.
In that sense that Costa Rican food is healthy even though it’s deep fried, I think its the best in the world. Of course, that pronouncement comes with the caveat that you had have to live an active lifestyle to work out the few excesses the Costa Rican diet exhibits.
For myself, I am always getting into something crazy whenever I find myself in another far flung area in the globe, so I live an active lifestyle without question. On a dare from the doc, however, I signed up for a small local marathon that coming Sunday.
I really am not the first guy to sign up for a race, but you could do worse than signing up for one in Costa Rica. Races spill out away from the streets and into the gorgeous foliage, across the trees and back into civilized land. It’s a special, unique experience you cannot really duplicate anywhere else.
And so, a few days after that pleasant meal, I was waiting out the start of the Costa Rican Marathon. My doctor was just behind me, but I was not sure if she was planning to look out for me or show off. Or check me out. Whether she was making fun of me or wanted me to get into it in earnest, I could not tell and I did not care. I was just going to do my best.
I did not expect to actually win it, of course, but when I got past that finish line I felt that euphoric rush get all over me. As my doctor motioned me to cross it (and of course she got there before me) I lost common sense for a bit and went up to her for a hug. As I got closer it felt like our lips were going to meet for a kiss, but my body would not stop moving so I ended up shoving her with my whole body and I kept moving a few more feet.
She was not happy about that, but at least she was satisfied with me just finishing the race. We went off to eat some more of Costa Rica’s healthy fried food, as she scolded me into promising I was not going to try it again.
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