As the Christmas holidays approach, families start to plan the traditional “tamaleada” a moment of family gathering and fun. Grandmothers start the checklist of ingredients, the corn dough preparation, the plantain leaves (to wrap the dough), and selecting the best wood pieces to prepare the firewood (the old cooking way).
The preparation of tamales is likely to have spread from the indigenous culture in Mexico and Guatemala to the rest of Latin America. Authentic Costa Rican tamales include saffron rice, chickpeas, red pepper, carrot, and potatoes. They can also be made with chicken, beef, pork, or a combination of these. For a vegetarian option, tamales can instead be filled with mashed potatoes, beans, and vegetables.
Once the tamales are ready, they are served at holiday parties and shared with other families, friends, and neighbors.
For a better Costa Rican experience, you can season your tamal with the famous Salsa Lizano, a tangy, slightly sweet, and very slightly spicy brown sauce (similar taste of the Lea and Perrin Worcestershire sauce).
Also, try your tamal with a cup of freshly brewed coffee! And don´t worry if you are not traveling during December, many restaurants of traditional Costa Rican food serve them year-round!
¡Buen provecho y Feliz Navidad!
Originally from Equatorial Africa this ethnic group came to Costa Rica at different historical moments and greatly contributed to enrich the culture and idiosyncrasy of the country.
Africans accompanied the Spanish settlers in Costa Rica during the discovery of new territories, the settlement of the first towns and the attempt of subjugation on the indigenous.
By mid-eighteen century, the turtle fishermen who constituted the minority of population settled in the coast of Limón founding small towns. These were joined by Afro-Caribbean people after the construction of the railways in Panama and Colombia.
Since 1871 with the beginning of construction of the railway to Limon from San José, Costa Rica experienced the greatest wave of Afro-Caribbean immigrants from different parts of the Caribbean, especially from Jamaica. The relationship of freedom, the ruin of the sugar cane plantations and the subsequent crisis forced the Jamaican to emigrate from the island.
The relationship between the Jamaicans and the State was circumstantial because the workers had in mind to return to their land; therefore they kept alive the ethnic and cultural connection with their country of origin. But the financial crisis of the railroad force many to stay, they engaged in subsistence farming on small plots settled along the rail line. Later on the banana exploitation came, job that the Jamaican was already familiarized with, since it was grown in Jamaica.
The isolation of the black population by the Costa Rican government began to disappear in 1948 when the government of José Figueres Ferrer took the first step to repeal discriminatory laws that classified the Afros, Chinese, Syrian, fugitives and mentally insane people as undesirable. He overrode the law that prohibited the migration of blacks to the Pacific following the banana plantations and opens the door to a process of integration between the Caribbean of Costa Rica and the rest of the country.
In their architecture, you can notice the clear British influence, which came from the West Indies and Jamaica, having wooden Victorian houses built on pillars, painted in bright colors, enclosed by a porch and decorates with cheerful Memorandum borders.
Limon´s province gastronomy highlights the subtlety of its dishes, in those who have always been used ingredients that nature provided and that they also planted for their nutritional needs. The coconut milk is the base on which they cook fish, seafood, rice with beans, or the famous Rondón, a soup made with the vigorous products they had such as tubers like the yucca, camote, ñampi, plantains and accompanied with red snapper, mackerel, jurel, lobster, crab or king crab.
Source: Caribbean Way Magazine
At the west end of the Central Valley, lies Sarchi, a small town surrounded by beautiful coffee estates, known as the crib of national artmanship. This is where the world´s largest oxcart was designed, built and decorated in 2006. A national symbol of our peace and work-oriented culture, the typical Costa Rican oxcart was declared a World Heritage Symbol by UNESCO. The oxcart united the highest artistic talents with the most important values of the Costa Rican people: perseverance, hard work, and peace. For this reason, in 2006, the Sarchi Chamber of Tourism invested in the construction of this extraordinary oxcart that currently holds a record in the Guinness Book of World Records. Sarchi and its neighboring towns: Grecia, Poas, and Naranjo are great locations to enjoy a coffee tour, shop for unique souvenirs and experience traditional small-town life in Costa Rica.
We also recommend a stay at Chayote Lodge located in Llano Bonito de Naranjo. It boasts 12 spacious bungalows. Each features a private terrace with breathtaking views of Poas, Barva, and Irazu Volcanos, as well as the Central Valley and the Nicoya Gulf in the Pacific Ocean, which can be seen on a clear day.
Inspired by the rich coffee culture of the region, each nook of the property resembles a piece of the coffee picker’s story and their lifestyle. Moreover, Chayote Lodge’s architecture and design integrate the most noteworthy elements of the coffee culture. For instance, the bungalows will resemble the traditional Coffee Receiving Stations known locally as “Recibidores”. Surrounded by coffee fields, green pastures, and a rich agricultural environment, the area depicts the best of a simple, yet enriching, Costa Rican tradition.