“El Sabor, el Sabor!” – This friendly shout fills Academia Tica’s patio every school day at noon, when hungry students flock towards the sound of Caribbean music and the wide smile of Don George. He emerges from a van and opens the side door to reveal baskets and coolers brimming with treats, which hungry students have been yearning for throughout the morning’s intensive Spanish classes.
And it´s not just any food, either. Don George specializes in typical fare from the Caribbean part of Costa Rica in addition to snacks like hamburgers, sandwiches, brownies and cheese cake. Everything is home-made by George and his wife every morning. He is always willing to explain every type of meal to students if they are about to eat something for the first time and often he also lets you try some things before you buy. Even after several months of living and studying at Academia Tica, it is still possible finding new things in George’s van and to not yet get “fed up” at lunch.
Here are some meals you should have a go at:
- Empanada de pollo: a pastry made of cornmeal and filled with spiced chicken, typically eaten in Costa Rica as a snack while having a (black!) coffee
- Patí: similar to an empanada but stuffed with minced beef and available in three different levels of spiciness – watch out for the red cross on the paper bag!
- Vigorón: the typical Costa Rican picnic dish comes with yucca, tomato, cabbage and crispy pork crackling
- Ceviche: a fresh fish cocktail with lime juice, chili and cilantro
- Arroz con pollo del Caribe: in contrast to the Costa Rican much-loved “Gallo Pinto” (rice and beans) this meal is enriched with coconut milk. George serves it along with chicken, salad, fried plantain and a fruit juice.
And for those of you with a sweet tooth:
- Pan de yuca, zanahoria o banano: a piece of delicious cake of yucca, carrot or banana – not too sweet and very moist/mellow
- Tamal: there are three different types of “tamales” made from cornmeal. George offers the sweet “Tamal asado” which looks a bit like German cheese cake
- Cocada: a sun-shaped pastry from Jamaica with a sweet and spiced coconut stuffing
- Arroz con leche: this cup of sweet rice pudding with cinnamon is one of the students’ favorites
- Tresleches: a typical Nicaraguan dessert brought to Costa Rica by the immigrants. The sponge cake is soaked with three types of milk and topped with a rich cream. Sometimes George adds strawberries or cacao to give this cake a special note.
…just to name a few!