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Heading back to Costa Rica

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We spent the entire month of August last year in Costa Rica, which is something I couldn't honestly classify as a "working vacation," although I wrote a lot of cooking articles while I was there. This time we are going because of family concerns: one of my stepdaughters is ill and she is a young single mother. I am quite concerned about her but we do not have an accurate diagnosis yet.

We will be immersing ourselves again in the spectacular fruits and vegetables that Costa Rica has to offer, particularly on the subject of those that look interesting or different compared to what we buy in Arizona. In that regard I had an interesting exchange with my doctor at my last visit, in which I commented on the organic fruit and vegetable fair and he remarked, "I thought all the produce in Costa Rica was organic."

Since he is Salvadorean (from El Salvador) I an guessing that he is informed on the topic, and it sure makes me happy to think that is the case. Once again I will have platanos for breakfast, at least for the time that we are there. I will also be learning some things I missed last time, such as the various kinds of chocolate that are available in Costa Rica. I mean, it comes from Central America originally, and was introduced to the Spaniards when they came in contact with the Aztec culture. If this idea interests you as well, you might want to drop by a web page called http://www.costaricachocolates.com/ that says:

"Ola Chocolates are produced by the Esquivel Benjamin family. Come visit us at our farms to learn how we have integrated different generations of a Costa Rican family into the business. Everyone shares in the work, including harvesting the seedpods to maintaining the records for the organic certification process.

"Because all the members of the family share in the work we are able to maintain the quality of chocolate produced from our farms. See who we are and learn more about how we also support workers from the local area."

Ola Chocolates has a United States contact and you can order various kinds of chocolate from their website. It's a good place to begin, although if you search Latin American chocolate you will probably never get to the end of the list. But even though most chocolate comes from Latin America, it could be cultivated in other areas by now, like Africa.

Ola's photo of their brownies looks mighty good, in addition. This is going to be something I will learn this time around that I didn't have time for last August. Perhaps we can take our daughter and her children to visit the plantation, which is in the Tarrazu coffee region in the general area of Quepos along their west coast.

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