You know me by now, I am an adventurer on land and with my palate as well. There is nothing like treating oneself to the local foods prepared in rickety shacks on the side of the road. A lot of travelers are wary of local food and in my opinion, they are missing out! It is a crucial part of discovery a country and its customs to eat at local stands. It is mama’s cooking at its very best and for the price of a penny.
And so it is no surprise that when a farmer approached my motorhome camped on Playa Negra in Cahuita, I had to see what he had to offer. The poor old man was skin and bone with no teeth and bent in half under the weight of his bag.
He had oranges, limes, avocadoes and a breadfruit. I was about to dismiss the breadfruit when he explained how to prepare it. That is one of the problems with unknown fruits and vegetables, they are so foreign to me that I wouldn’t know how to prepare them, so I pass on most of them. He explained how to peel it, remove the core, and eat the flesh. You can boil it, bake it, fry it or stew it, he said.
And so that night I decided to find out my favourite way of cooking breadfruit by boiling some, baking some other en papillote and by frying the rest. The verdict: Boiled has more moisture and its texture better for me, as the rest was really quite dry. It tastes just like potatoes and cooks a lot faster too. It was so tasty that I ate my bowl of boiled breadfruit as is, without any salt, pepper or butter. It was quite filling too.
The next day, I find myself discovering the stunning Parque Nacional de Cahuita. A jungle reserve bordering the ocean, brimming with exotic life! I was on my way back when all of a sudden I have an urgent need to go to the bathroom. I am hurrying my steps, trying to reach the bathrooms at the entrance of the park on time. My my, I thought, I haven’t had a bathroom incident since Mexico. I wonder what is going on? Was it the salmon that was not fresh? Hum, I would have been sick almost immediately had it been the case. I was in such a bad state that I even considered wandering off the raked path to relieve myself in the bushes. A good thing I didn’t since I learned during a following visit that Hognose Vipers are numerous and hide it the fallen leaves on the ground. They are of the same brown colour and almost invisible, hence the importance of staying on the path! When I learned of this I had this image of me, lying dead in my own shit, with my arse hanging out, bitten by a viper on the cheek. What an undignified death indeed!
It was not until a few days later, while browsing the stores in town and leafing through cooking books, books on fruits and vegetables native to Costa Rica that I come across this little phrase under Breadfruit: “Do not eat it raw as it is a potent laxative!” That’s when it hit me: that little bite, no bigger than my pinky’s nail, that I ate while preparing my Breadfruit was the culprit!
I cannot imagine what would have happened had I eaten more! It would have turned me inside out for sure. Potent laxative! No shit Sherlock!
Until next time my new road amigos!
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Au plaisir de la route!