Farm to table was a way of life here

Q TRAVEL (  Costa Rica was most probably the first destination to come onto the eco-friendly radar. Long known for offering all levels of sustainable tourism, the phrase Pura Vida or pure life weaves a web throughout the country’s culture and lifestyle.

While it might not currently register as a foodie destination, that my friends is quickly changing. I recently had the opportunity to talk food and indigenous ingredients when I was invited to Cook Like a Tico with Costa Rica’s Gastronomic Chef Ambassador for Sustainable and Healthy Plan, Randy Siles.

Chef Siles has been busy traversing the globe, surprising guests like myself with innovative recipes that highlight the sustainable food chain in Costa Rica.

Farm to table was a way of life here long before it became a phrase in the popular eco friendly lexicon. Locals in this country make daily trips to the bakery. Farmer’s markets are common shopping destinations to get the freshest ingredients. You are probably acquainted with the rich and aromatic Costa Rican coffee and the brewing vehicle, known as chorreardores. What are the other indigenous ingredients you’ll find in this Central American country? Dig a bit deeper and you’ll find plenty more than rice and beans.

Chef Randy Siles, Lisa Falso, Supervisor of Culinary Programs at Boston University and students.

When you are bordered on one side by the Caribbean and the other by the Atlantic ocean,  rest assured there will be plenty of seafood on the menu. Casado. Mahi-mahi, red snapper, sea bass and tuna are all very common. You’ll also find fresh lobster, clams, calamari and crab, all mainstays that the Caribbean waters are known for.

I discovered how fertile volcanic soil allows for sustainable methods of farming on my recent trip to the Azores. A warmer climate in Costa Rica combined with the rich soil enhances the agricultural methods even further, allowing for a much wider variety of ingredients.

While bananas, pineapples and watermelon might be the countries largest exports, farmer’s markets will offer a dizzying selection of giant green avocados, mangoes, tamarind, lychees, guava, and golden Peruvian brown cherries, looking a bit like tomatillos in their pods. Pear squash, peach palm fruit, mangosteens, star fruit, passion fruit, noni, lemandarina and coconuts are also part of the picture in season.

Hungry yet?

Start to Cook Like a Tico.

Chef Siles spoke about available local fish, fruits and vegetables in Costa Rica and substitutes that anyone can find in their own marketplace while we chopped away for the recipes on the menu.

Click here to read more about Chef Siles.

Article originally appeared at

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