Even food is not out of the reach of the central government. The Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio announced Wednesday what it calls the Plan Nacional de Gastronomía Sostenible y Saludable. The ministry did so at a meeting of the Cámara Costarricense de Restaurantes y Afines.
The ministry said that it was seeking a Costa Rican gastronomy based on national products and to rescue cooking traditions, Also sought was promoting community development and protecting the environment.
The ministry said that other agencies and private organizations were supporting the initiative. One of them is the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud, which already runs contest to promote traditional dishes and to collect the recipes.
The ministry also sees this as strengthening small and medium enterprises. There are some 90 food producers already listed with the ministry’s small business program, including restaurants, drink manufacturers, mobile food providers and food producers.
The ministry initiative also includes setting standards for the food industry and a multitude of other specifics. Some seem hard to swallow, such as reducing cost and increasing productivity and profitability. And finally to increase the quality of life in the country.
So what should be a traditional Costa Rican dinner?
Not all these ideas are traditional, but they do include local foods. There are some beneficial aspects, too.
Lion fish, an invasive species, are cleaning out other sea creatures in the Caribbean. The best way to catch them is with spears, as is done at Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Putting them on the commercial menu would create another industry and help clean up the ocean.
A really traditional food here is the paca (Cuniculus paca) also known as a tepezcuintle. This forest rodent was a main course long before Columbus. They now are farm-reared, but many individuals still have an aversion to a main course of rodent. So beef, also a traditional food, was selected instead.
The dinner would start with creamed peach palm soup (pejibayes) served with cassava or yuca flour buns.
This would be accompanied by a guaro martini, shaken not stirred!
An appetizer of pickled veggies called escabeche also would be served.
A simple salad consists of lettuce and tomatoes with an optional sugar cane and vinegar dressing.
The fish course will be that Puerto Viejo lion fish in a coconut butter sauce laced with Santa Ana onions..
The main course provides a choice of either farm-reared tilapia drenched in salsa or a traditional grilled beef, Some might argue that beef is not a sustainable food. And some folks are pushing lion fish burgers to help eliminate the invasive species. But you can’t beat beef.
Chayote. Cartago potatoes and perhaps rice with a side of beans
comes with the main course.
Beverages include atole de avena, the oatmeal and milk drink, or tapa de dulce, a mixture made from raw sugar.
There is local local beer and maybe another belt of a guaro martini. Leave the car keys with the host.
The selected dessert is chorreadas flambé in the style of a crêpe suzette, except with the traditional base of the Costa Rican corn pancake. A 100-proof Costa Rican rum would provide the flames, and the fruit and sugar are local.
Cafe Rica, the coffee liquor, comes with a separate serving of expresso.
Would if be politically incorrect to offer Puriscal cigars in the drawing room?
If anything, Costa Rican cooks under estimate what is available. What about bananas or platanos. Avocados, perhaps? Although the best ones seem to come from California.
A strange fact is that Costa Rica produces little wine, and some that is offered as a national product comes from imported powder. Jocote producers are reported to have developed an alcoholic drink similar to wine using the little green fruits.
Any other suggestions?