Posts Tagged With: Costa Rica

Fun Festivals – Tossing Tomatoes at La Tomatina

The world’s best tomato festival, La Tomatina, is held in Buñol, Spain. The festival starts with the eating of many different tomato-based dishes. Yum! However, dining on the tomato is not the reason for La Tomatina’s extraordinary popularity. The festival hosts the world’s biggest tomato fight. Yippee.

Strangely enough this fun festival grew out of parade where musicians and people dressed up as giants and big heads. The local youth, decided to join the parade, as who would not? I mean giants and big heads. The teens got rambunctious. One of the marchers lost his fake head in the commotion. He became angry and started hitting all the young folks that came near him.

The teens took offense at this battery. As fate would have it, the young ones were next to a vegetable cart. The local youth grabbed tomatoes and other veggies and threw them at the battering marcher. Well, the aim of most people is rather poor and most of the hurled tomatoes missed their target. The people hit by these errant missiles got angry. So, they hurled tomatoes back. And missed. Hitting still others. Soon, the tomato tossing became general, just like all those bar fights in Western movies.

The following year, Buñol’s youth commemorated the event by staging a fake argument that deteriorated into a tomato-throwing free for all. The authorities, not foreseeing the tourist draw this tomato hurling would become, broke up the fight. But the tomato-hurling came back the next year. Now la Tomatina happens every year. Why? Because it’s such great fun. Locals hose down the participants. Authorities hose down the streets. So much citric acid, from the tomatoes, gets everywhere that the washed streets will sparkle.

I want to go to La Tomatina. So let’s go there some time. We’ll arrange a meeting. Stay tuned.

Authorities banned this tomato tossing once. Possibly to honor my birth. Possibly because police traditionally look askance at anything resembling a riot. Anyway, devotees of the festival protested this by carrying a huge tomato in a coffin through the center of town. Buñol’s authorities relented and from then on allowed the La Tomatina Festival to continue. Really! Is that all it takes to make the authorities relent? Just carry a tomato-laden coffin through town. (Writes this down for future reference.)

La Tomatina increases in popularity every year and occurs on the last Wednesday in August. Up to 100,000 people attend. It’s so popular that you must buy tickets to attend. Now, the world has finally taken notice. Similar events take place in Colorado, Nevada, Colombia, Costa Rica, China, and India. La Tomatina has made its way in to movies around the world and even into a Mickey Mouse(tm) episode.

Unfortunately, the festival was not held in 2020 and will not be held this year, because of the Covid pandemic. Let us strongly hope that we can soon, and safely, engage in boisterous fun once again.

Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D., travel adviser

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

 

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Sococho (Panamanian Soup)

Panamanian Soup

SOCOCHO

INGREDIENTSSococho-

4 garlic cloves
1 large onion
2 tomatoes
2 pounds yucca or cassava root
1½ pounds potatoes
2 pounds boneless chicken parts
2 teaspoons olive oil (additional ½ tablespoon later)
1 tablespoon cilantro
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 cups chicken stock

SPECIAL UTENSILS

Dutch oven
rocker knife or knife with thick blade

Serves 8 bowls and can take up to 2 hours to prepare depending on the battle between you and the yucca root goes.

PREPARATION

Mince garlic cloves. Dice onion and tomatoes. Peel yucca and cut it into ½” cubes. (Cutting yucca root is much easier with rocker knife or thick-bladed knife.) Chop potatoes into ½” cubes. Cut chicken into 1″ cubes. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil, cilantro, oregano, salt, and chicken to mixing bowl. Thoroughly coat chicken with herb/salt/olive oil mix. Let marinate for 20 minutes.

While chicken marinates, add ½ tablespoon olive, garlic, and onion to pan. Sauté on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Add chicken and its herb/salt/olive oil marinade to large soup pot. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside. Stir occasionally. (How about “Pink Chicken” as a name for avant garde band?)

Add chicken stock to soup pot. Keep heat on medium. Add potato and yucca to pot, cover, and cook for 45-to-60 minutes or until potato and yucca are tender. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

TIDBITS

1) Van Halen has a song called, “Panama.” A lot of people thought the words were actually “Padded bra.”

2) Either version makes as much sense in the song.

3) I keep hearing Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders singing, “I’m gonna make you, make you malteds.” I like the idea of a famous singer making me a malted. I do prefer them over milkshakes.

4) Does anyone else hear “Do the hustle” as “Tuna hustle?” How does a tuna hustle?”

5) And of course, Creedence Clearwater Revival tell us, “There’s a bathroom on the right.” That’s nice to know.

6) Okay, okay, tidbits 1) to 5) are a prime example of what happens what I look up fun facts for a country and find nothing exciting except . . .

7) In Panama, the sun rises in the Pacific and sets in the Atlantic.

8) This is because time runs backward in Panama

9) In Panama, the people use American dollars for transaction involving paper currency, but their own home-grown coins, the Balboas for vending machines and buses.

10) Panama’s coins are named after Rocky Balboa the hero of all those Rocky boxing movies.

11) How is it possible that the Balboa coins came before the Rocky movies but are named after the series’ main character? Time runs backward in Panama. Remember tidbit 8)?

12) People in Panama win all the American lotteries, since they know all the winning numbers.

13) But they lose the big jackpots when they exchange all that loot when they buy their lottery tickets. Does this frustrate the Panamanians?

14) Yes it does.

15) Invariably the American lotteries are then won by Americans or by citizens of other nations where time moves forward.

16) Augh! I’ve lost my train of thought.

17) Whew, I’ve got it back. Time gets a bit dicey when passing from a country where time moves forward to Panama where it regresses. Often people crossing the Costa Rica/Panamanian border find themselves in a sort of stasis field where time doesn’t move at all.

18) Which is a boon for parents of surly teenagers. If you have the cash, simply deposit your young know-it-all, whatever, in anyone of the stasis fields dotting the border there and leave him there.

19) Don’t forget to take your child home when he’s old enough to leave home for good.

20) You get up to eight years of clean bedrooms and the teenagers won’t get embarrassed by your ignorance. It’s a win-win situation.

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Costa Rican Pork Casado

Costa Rican Entree

PORK CASADO

INGREDIENTSCasado-

8 tablespoons orange juice
4 tablespoons orange zest
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin

¼ head cabbage
1 small carrot
1 small tomato
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup basmati or white rice
1 onion (1 additional onion later)
2 red bell peppers
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (5 additional tablespoons later)

2 plantains
5 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion
4 pork loins

1 15-ounce can black beans

PREPARATION MARINADE

Coat pork loins throughly in orange juice, orange zest, garlic salt, chili powder, and cumin.. Let marinate for 30 minutes. Keep marinade.

PREPARATION – SALAD

Shred cabbage. Dice carrot and tomato. Add cabbage, carrot, tomato, pepper, and salt to mixing bowl. Mix with fork.

PREPARATION – RICE

Add rice to pot. Cook rice according to instructions on package. While rice cooks, mince 1 onion and red bell peppers. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Keep rice and onion/bell pepper mix warm.

PREPARATION – PLANTAINS

Peel plantains. Slice plantains in half lengthwise. Add 5 tablespoons vegetable oil and plantain to pan. Sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes or until plantains become tender and turn golden brown. Drain and keep warm.

PREPARATION – PORK

Cut onion into four slices. Grill onion and pork loins on barbecue grill at high or 450 degrees. Grill onions for 10 minutes or until they start to char. Turn them over once. Grill pork for 20 minutes or until it is cooked through (white inside) or starts to brown. Turn over every 5 minutes. Brush with marinade each time.

PREPARATION – FINAL

Put beans in pot. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or until sauce begins to bubble. Add pork to plate with grilled onion slice on top. Add rice to side and top with onion/red pepper mix. Add 2 plantains to the side. (Lots of sides, aren’t there?) Add cabbage to a remaining spot on plate and top with carrot and tomato.

(snarky comment. ☜ Weeks later: I was interrupted by a melee in the house, plate tectonics, or something, so I typed “snarky comment” as a place filler. Clearly, I had hoped to come back in a jiffy with a brilliant thought intact. However, my brilliance was as fleeting as the perfect ripeness of an avocado. So let this be a cautionary tale to everyone; write down your thoughts if you suspect a bout of plate tectonics coming on.)

Enjoy!

TIDBITS

1) This recipe is made with orange zest. As far as I know there are no movies titles with the word zest in them.

3) But there is a classic movie called “Lust for Life” starring Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn. It’s about the life of Vincent Van Gogh.

4) Van Gogh was an artist. So am I. I had a vase displayed in the Gemente Museum in the The Hague, Netherlands.

5) I am much more into cooking now. The upcoming movie about my life is likely to be called, “Lust for Zest.”

6) Any dish I create gets eaten.

7) You are not allowed to eat paintings in art museums, particularly so at the Louvre in Paris.

8) Not even if you bring the correct spices and wine. However, you can eat popcorn at the movies. As of press time, however, few movie theaters serve gourmet dinners and fine wine. It’s a hard world out there.

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: cuisine, food, humor, international, recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Favorites for the next round in Soccer’s World Cup

France over Germany. I’m a direct descendant of the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. I’m ready if they ever come to their senses and restore me to my rightful throne. On the other hand, they did kill some of my Hugenot ancestors in their religious wars some centuries ago. I bicycled through France while in grad school and had a great time, except for that one French driver who ran me off the road and sent me to the hospital. France has invaded Germany many more than times than vice versa over the centuries. However, Germany has done the last three invading. I took French in school and at my peak, I could go toe to toe with any French eight year old. While I like German food very much, I love French food much more and have so many more French recipes. And my gosh, how could I not root for the country that invented the chocolate eclair?

Brazil over Columbia. Brazil speaks Portuguese. Portuguese names are cool. Is there any name cooler than Vasco di Gama? (Quite possibly spelled correctly.) I liked the variety of Brazilian cuisine over Columbian. Brazil has had brutal dictatorships, while Columbia has been in the thrall of drug cartels. It’s gotten better in both countries. In grad school at Wisconsin, I sometimes worked registering students. One semester the whole process got horribly messed up. Students who registered at the end found no classes open that they liked. Some were nearly in tears, afraid they couldn’t register for any class at all and would have paid tuition for nothing. Fortunately, there was a poster behind me that read, “Why not Portuguese?” Apparently the Portuguese department had openings in their classes for the tired, huddled masses of freshmen yearning for credits so they could graduate in four years.  I hope that helped the beleaguered students.

Belgium over Argentina. While much better now, Argentina once had a brutal dictatorship while Belgium has remained pretty much harmless. Years ago, I bicycled through Belgium without incident. Yay. Who could not love the Argentinian barbecue, but for goodness sake, Belgium gifted humanity with the French fry. And who does not feel warm and fuzzy about the Belgian waffle? Belgium did beat America, boo!, and if the Belgians had invented only the French fry, I’d be saying, “Viva, Argentina!” But the Belgian waffle brought me back to backing Belgium. Close call, though.

Netherlands over Costa Rica. I don’t know anything about Costa Rican cuisine, sorry. However, the Dutch have the most amazing spicy mustard they put on their French fries. And my gosh, the Dutch know how to cook their French fries just right! Their mini pancakes with confectionery sugar is one of the world’s best desserts. You can get great Indonesian food anywhere in the Netherlands. Sure, that’s because the Dutch invaded Indonesia in the 1600s, which was bad. But the Dutch left Indonesia in 1948 taking home a love for Indonesian food, one of the world’s greatest cuisine. I lived in the Netherlands for three years while a teenager and loved it. The people there are very nice. They keep everything clean except for a strange blind spot about dog poop everywhere on the side walks.

– Sports reporter, Paul De Lancey

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

 

 

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