When it comes to cuisine, the Costa Ricans are indeed stepping up – they are planning to launch a national plan of healthy, sustainable, and unique Costa Rican cuisine. This idea is a joint effort by the the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo, the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad, the Cámara Costarricense de Restaurantes y Afines, and the Club de la Gastronomía Epicúrea.
The plans were recently announced, as a part of the World Tourism Day. The organizers say they are aiming to create a unique cuisine that will not only strengthen their national identity, but will also create new businesses. They also hope that the proposal will “rescue” the traditional foods, while protecting the local flora and fauna, some of which are at risk of deforestation, by suggesting alternate foods.
At present, the Costa Rican cuisine is defined by foods like the gallo pinto — a delicacy made with rice and beans. However, the organizers believe that there are more food products that can be made with these ingredients, such as malanga chips or risotto with flor de itabo.
Even the Costa Rican embassy in France promotes the Costa Rican cuisine, basing it on ingredients like beans, corn, palmito, and pejibaye. In the embassy webpage, there is even a short poem dedicated to the Costa Rican national alcoholic drink, called guaro.
Still, the proposed idea of the organizers is definitely more creative but complicated. They are hoping to put together unique dishes, such as those made by Carlos Castillo, the executive chef of the Hotel Ramada Plaza Herradura. Castillo created a complete menu that is entirely based on local products like the níspero (sapodilla fruit) and the pejibaye palm nut.
In an effort to find the best local cuisine, the Ministerio de Cultura and Juventud started to conduct regional contests. Many of these dishes have already been inputted into booklets, meaning the research is already in place.
This unique proposal also makes the restaurant chamber’s 30th anniversary. Chamber President Manuel Burgos even commented that putting such a plan in place would entail the help of educational institutions. He believes that this project may be ambitious, but will have long-term effects.
Costa Rican expats in France can visit local ferias and buy food products that they can experiment with. Some examples are malanga, a root crop, and flor de itabo. The latter is defined as the white flowers of the yucca plant, which are seasonal and are collected ever year. People use them to provide “zest”to otherwise ordinary meals, like scrambled eggs. However, the flor de itabo can also be used in salads.
Guaro, the local version of sugar cane alcohol is very popular. However, there are also several coffee liquor that are popular in Costa Rican cuisine. This means that creating delicacies like crepes de flor de itabo flambé is very much possible.
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