Southern zone cooks create some unique dishes

How about some flan made with a base of marcuyá?  Or maybe a drink made with bamboo?

These were among the 301 dishes or drinks that competed for awards Saturday in Palmar Sur.  There were 145 main dishes, 95 breads and desserts and 61 typical drinks. 

The southern Pacific coast is well away from the Central Valley, and the cooking traditions appear to be unique. For example, the winners in the drinks category were fresco de ayote and batido de guayaba. Ayote is a form of squash, and guayaba is a fruit. The batido is similar to a milkshake.

The contest is one of a series put on by the Centro de Investigación y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultura. The goal is to preserve the culinary heritage of the country. Eventually the recipes of  the winners will show up in a Centro publication.

One of the three top main dishes was picadillo de flor de papaya by Elida Meza. 

Sharing the honor were arroz de maíz by Marta Chavarría Cerna and a second picadillo de papaya dish, this one by Margarita Aguilar Montero.

The entries in each category were judged by independent panels. Judges took nearly three hours to make their selections, said the Centro.

The fresco de ayote was the entry by Aracely Acevedo González. Batido de guayaba came from the kitchen of Adilia Montoya Pinto. 

Sonia Vargas Alvarado prepared the flan or custard with maracuyá.  A second winner, torta de plàtano was presented by Xinia Bolaños. The third winner in the dessert category was pastel de plátano by Marcela Picado.

All the winners received money prizes.

Ms. Vargas was quoted by the Centro in saying that the principal ingredient in such dishes is love followed by creativity.

Gerardo Bolívar was a judge in the drinks category who said he was surprised to find an entry that used bamboo as a base.

The southern zone is a rich tropical agricultural area. Officials said that another aspect of the contest was to suggest dishes that might be commercialized.

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