Tamales of Costa Rica.
It was early afternoon on a crisp day and Christmastime when I, an anthropologist, and two representatives from the office at L’ EcoResorts reached Drake Bay (Bahía Drake) and our eco lodge on a private reserve along the Osa Peninsula. A remote coastal region, Osa Peninsula is sited at the southernmost isthmus in Costa Rica and is home to an array of wildlife species.
Prior to arriving in Costa Rica, I learnt that many of the region’s dishes contain a lot fruits and vegetables. And the majority of meals are cooked from scratch using ‘real foods’ as opposed to pre-cooked ingredients with added preservatives. And therefore, in addition to seeing the beautiful natural landscape and the exotic wild species I was looking forward to indulging some authentic Costa Rican cuisine. Although, it did cross my mind that, ‘for the most part, with the exception of some exotic types and the environment in which they are grown/produced, fruits and vegetables are fruits and vegetables‘. Oh don’t be such a spoiler, culinary wonders have been created with the simplest of ingredients, I reminded myself.
At mealtime, we were served some delicious Tamales. This dish has been prepared by Tico families for generations and comprises marinated poultry or meat, herbs and spices, beans, rice, potatoes, and vegetables rolled in cornmeal dough, which is then wrapped in Banana tree leaves (or similar tree leaves), tied with twines, and cooked in boiling water. Then served.
A nationwide celebrated dish mainly around Christmastime, Tamales can be seen all over Costa Rica and had during this period. Families cook many varieties of the dish. Grocery stores carry many varieties of the dish pre-made by local artisans. Vegan types are available too. And holiday eco lodges cater to their clients’ palate with a variety of the dish. It is often served with a hot cup of Costa Rican coffee.
If you are visiting Costa Rica during this festive season, Merry Christmas. Feliz Navidad.
Video: Making Tamales, Costa Rican Style.
Article by: Ana Sabrina Mora