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!