One thing is for sure when it comes to the differences in food choices here in Costa Rica. The first noticeable thing is the selection and quality of meat, fish, and poultry. Chicken is good, pork is good, fish is really good, beef is not so good at all. Their cattle are not grain fed, so the meat is a little tougher and has a more stringy texture.
The chicken and most cuts of meat at the supermarkets here in the town of Atenas aren’t individually packaged. You have to select from a large vat of pieces all thrown in together. A couple of the supermarkets have a bit of a “funky” odor in their meat departments, so I have been wary of buying any fresh meats at all.
Fish, fresh or frozen, is a safer bet. I still haven’t bought any from town, though. Instead, I still feel more comfortable saving meat purchases until we go into the “big city.” They have AutoMercado, which specializes in imported goods and offers a “more familiar” shopping experience. The meat is packaged and has similar appearance as to that in the states. Another important thing is that it has been dated/time-stamped.
The toughest part is not having some of the more familiar items our family enjoys. So it has taken a bit of experimental tasting and testing to find acceptable substitutes. David has always been a picky eater. He doesn’t like any of the homemade macaroni and cheese recipes I’ve tried. They do sell Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, but it’s nearly $4 a box. Gladly, we’ve found a replacement at about 80 cents.
They also sell Campbells Cream of Mushroom Soup, but it too is nearly $3 for a single can. So, my next attempt will be to try Knorrs Crema de Hongo. I’ll see how it works as a substitute, and I’ll have to let you know.
Tonight, we had quick pizza baguettes. It was better than expected. First, buy a baguette from the local Muswanni bakery. Slice it length-wise. Squeeze on a pouch of any flavored tomato sauce. Cover with desired toppings (meat and/or choice of veggies). Top with choice of cheese(s). Slide in 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes. WOW!
We’ve had some great hits, and a few awful misses; but as long as we keep being creative, I’m sure we’ll find some new favorites to replace our old ones.