The most important thing that I have been dealing with here is the claim that my hotel has an internet connection. It doesn't, really--most of the time my signal strength registers as "low" and I have trouble reading web pages and posting articles. I have to write whenever I have something, and then I am forced to wait until I can get a good enough connection to post things to Examiner.com. This has nothing to do with them, or with my desire to publish articles. Ticos agree that the Internet here is "malissima," or very bad. Very bad news for me!
Another thing that arose last week was the necessity to refill a prescription. Do not believe the guidebooks that tell you to go to a farmacia and simply buy what you need. That is no longer true, at least here. It came to the attention of authorities in Costa Rica long ago that a tourist could present himself or herself at various farmacias, buy drugs and then resell them either here or at home. I didn't know until I began working for Medicare Part D that there is a brisk trade in prescription drugs among seniors who are daring enough to finagle various ways of getting them; I thought that was the purview of people like Rush Limbaugh. But I was wrong; nowadays if you are going to Latin America or (in my opinion) any other foreign destination, make a visit to your doctor and get written copies of your prescriptions in case you run out.
I enjoyed being introduced to a new taste sensation in carrot juice over the weekend. Our manager's wife was cooking up a party Saturday night, and she juiced some fresh carrots and combined the juice half-and-half with orange juice over ice and then sweetened it to taste. This is a pretty simple health cocktail, but they drank it with dinner. Why didn't I think of that? Brilliant!
Since I already have both types of juicer, the one that handles everything with an extraction basket and a citrus juicer (a much simpler apparatus), there is nothing to prevent me from making a carrot-orange fruit punch when I get back to Tucson. In fact, I can't wait--I live near the new Costco off of Campbell or Kino Parkway. They have ten-pound bags of organic carrots there, a size that is easier to handle than the 25-pound bags at Whole Foods, but what really matters is to get some organic carrots and learn to drink carrot juice.
I would have a bit of hesitation in recommending this if it were not true that carrot juice itself tastes much better than carrots, whether you crunch them up with a dip, grate them into a salad or cook them. Carrot juice is just the way to consume carrots.
Juicing up fresh organic oranges, tangerines or tangelos is health in a glass, as I often say, and combining citrus with carrot and icing it down is just about perfect. The only other way I really like to eat carrots is to grate them pretty finely and make a simple Carrot-Raisin Salad with just enough mayonnaise to hold the carrots and raisins together.
This illustrates just how important are the Big Six, in this case mayonnaise. We eat an awful lot of mayonnaise as a nation, and the chemicals that are thrown in where they are not needed can give you a real pause for thought. I am in the preliminary process of getting a cookbook together for publication, and in my Big Six section I may work out a recipe for mayonnaise, but for now I recommend that of the great Chef Alton Brown, whose recipes can be located easily online.
I am also eating the huge Costa Rican eggs for breakfast, along with my new favorite breakfast side dish, platanos. This morning I sautéed the slices and put some honey over them, finding out what Costa Rica sells as honey. What I bought is called Las Mieles de Rooby--but I won't buy it again. Under the ingredients are listed miel (honey) and jarabe de maiz (corn fructose syrup). The latter is enough to scare me off; I had not thought that Costa Rica is allowing high-fructose corn syrup in their food. I don't know for sure that it is HFCS, but it's close enough to make me double-check for pure honey next time.
The platanos were wonderful with the honey, though, and I recommend that you try it at home some breakfast morning; just slice the peeled platano, sauté it in oil or butter, and then when it is browned and soft, you flatten it a bit with a spatula or fork to break up the starch (if it doesn't break up, the starch is not yet cooked). Then drizzle the slices with honey and you will love the result.
I thought about putting some brown sugar into the butter-and-oil mixture that I am cooking the platano slices in, but it seems to me that I'm getting into Bananas Foster territory there--this is not a dessert. So just a sprinkle or a drizzle will do.