Food is who I am; it has a presence everywhere in my life. I grew up in a household where both meal preparation and the meals themselves acted as a gathering place for friends and family. I’m also a huge fan of every form of entertainment that involves food; movies, books, articles, TV – I’ve seen them all. I also plan on studying food systems in grad school and then continuing on to promote sustainable food in my career.
So, naturally, in preparation for living in Costa Rica for a few months, I did some research on the country’s cuisine. To my dismay, the guide books made it sound like the traditional food here would be pretty boring. Add to this discovery the fact that I eat a plant-based diet, I became concerned that I would have incredibly limited options.
Flash-forward to six weeks into the program and I literally could NOT be happier about the food. I look forward to every meal because there is always something new and different to try.
A day in the life at the Center for Sustainable Development Studies through the lens of food:
Breakfast: three cereal options, rice and beans, scrambled eggs, salsa, avocado slices, fruit salad, toast and jam, yogurt, milk, orange juice and COFFEE (always available)
Lunch: rice and beans (a staple of every meal), huge green salad, an assortment of cooked veggies, chickpea patties, mashed yucca, guacamole, and juice
Dinner: rice and beans, salad, potato pancakes, fried plantains, ceviche, arroz con leche, Costa Rican-style lasagna
Are you a snacker? Have no fear! There are always some options in the kitchen and most students have their own stash of snacks from the local grocery store that they keep in the dorm kitchen.
As far as restaurants and café, it’s been a blast trying out different local flavors. A particular favorite restaurant in nearby Atenas, called La Finca, serves delicious thin crust pizza and a signature dessert pizza featuring Nutella.
Speaking of pizza, this past Friday we all got together to make our own from scratch, including the dough. Achim, our Natural Resource Management professor, was in charge of the outdoor oven, cranking out an epic assortment of pizza creations that the students had made.
All in all, when I look back to my experience here in Costa Rica, I know that the food will stay a dominant element of my memories here.