Monthly Archives: June 2010

Plaintains as a lunch snack

A stop at a roadside soda for lunch near La Fortuna. Salad with palmito (hearts of palm) to start, followed by ceviche and patacones con guacamole (fried green plaintains – savory and salty). Watched the World Cup with the locals.
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What’s on your cookbook shelf?

Many years ago in my newspapering days I interviewed a woman who researched cookbooks throughout history.  She had hundreds … and as many stories to share from Medieval Times to the current century.  A look at someone’s cookbook shelf does give you some inkling of how they eat, don’t you think?

I’m running out of room for cookbooks.  I wean a few every year or so but like most people, I have a handful of faithfuls that I turn to.  Here’s a look at those standbys – The Basics. Nothing very fancy but always rewarding. And that black binder at the bottom? It’s used more than all the rest — hundreds of clippings collected over the years.

How about you?  What are your favorites?

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Favorite Cookbooks I - The Basics

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Ceviche – perfect starter for lunch

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Fabulous fruit platters for breakfast

Fresh plaintains from our innkeeper’s garden were a special treat at our B&B in Drake Bay. All of our breakfasts in Costa Rica have featured a plate of sliced fruit. Pineapple, papaya, mango, starfruit, watermelon, banana. This is a habit I need to bring home!
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Casado – a “marriage of foods”

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One of my favorite meals in Costa Rica is casado, a popular plated lunch or light dinner of black beans, rice, salad and meat or fish. During our five days in Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, we ate in a “soda” or small family restaurant every night. Because the location is remote, supplies are delivered by boat or in limited quantities by truck.  Casado is a simple and fresh menu feature of every soda in town. And it’s healthy. I know because my beach pants are fitting looser than usual – a good sign!

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Vacation break

We’re (way) south of the border for a family vacation. Stay tuned for tales of Tico cuisine!

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Male insight – just in time for Father’s Day

I recently downloaded an audio book on “The Male Brain” in an effort to better understand the goings-on in my testosterone-dominant household.  The cat and I are struggling to tip the gender balance in our direction.  Our two pet female rats don’t help much. I figured a little insight wouldn’t hurt in dealing with a husband and two boys. I could have saved myself the effort, I suppose, if I had turned first to a small cookbook tucked away on a high shelf: “Dishes Men Like.”

I’m not kidding – that’s the title. Published in 1952 by Lea and Perrin Worcestershire Sauce. My mother passed it along at some point, with a check mark inked beside the “mystery cheese ball” recipe.

As you might expect, the premise behind this little jewel of a cookbook is that Worcestershire sauce is that magic bullet that lures men to the dinner table.  Indeed, I remember the L&P bottle was a definitive fixture on the table whenever my mom served steak. L&P makes an appearance now and then beside our stove to add a little pizazz to routine recipes, but never had I considered making Worcestershire sauce the starring attraction. Hmmm, could it be the culinary equivalent of a pheromone to bring the menfolk running to the table? Maybe I should think again.  Let’s consider the introduction:

If you have husband who likes to cook, pamper him! You are lucky indeed, even though you find yourself only a fetch-and-carry handmaiden while his genius glows. But men are wise, not one in a thousand really wants to take over the job. They usually have a few specialties to produce on occasion and leave the rest of the cooking to us.

So, what to do? It goes without saying that most women choose dishes men like.

While the recipes may be worth a second look, it’s the images that are truly entertaining.  Apparently grainy black-and-white photos coupled with Jetson-like ink drawings were the trend in food styling in the ’50s and ’60s. The blog Eat Me Daily features plenty of examples if you want to take a look. (Consider lingering a while to enjoy a cynical and critical take on food, media and culture.)

A focus on Dishes Men Like — Worchestershire Sauce or not — makes a lot of sense in this household.  That’s why you’ll see this blog moving, literally, in that direction this summer.  Stay tuned for further details!

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