Smoky cardamom and fiery chilies perfume the air, while brick red curries and fragrant Biryanis lure me in with their spicy warmth. A laboratory of desserts with wondrous incarnations of milk and sugar are dizzyingly enticing, and aromatic cups of chai ground me with a sense of place. This is India – and she’s still on my mind.
Throughout our journey, I found new and unexpected flavors in dishes that have secured a place in my memory. Dal Makhani, smoky black lentils that simmered for 24 hours until reaching a rich and velvety consistency. A triangular jewel of a dessert made from slivers of pumpkin dyed a psychedelic green and filled with dried fruit and nuts. Emerald Palak Paneer, a mild spinach curry balanced by cubes of light soft cheese and served with crispy papadum cones and golden garlic naans. Golden masala dosas folded over perked up potatoes and paired with black tea for breakfast, and Anarkali sweets molded from cashew nougat, spiked with saffron, and wrapped in edible silver in the late afternoon. more »
All this adrenaline made me hungry. Fortunately, the food in Jaco was consistently fresh and delicious, premium grade fuel for body and soul.
Every morning around seven, I would leave my room to be greeted by majestic waves rumbling beneath our balcony. I would cut up some fruit – whether papaya, watermelon, mangoes, plums, or a native fruit called guaba – to find they were always ripe with sweetness and juice. We had purchased the brightest ones at a dusty fruit stand by the side of the road on our way to Jaco, where we picked up pipa fria, cold young coconut, to sip on our way to the beach. For breakfast, I would crack some eggs, mesmerized by their plump orange yolks, and fry them into omelettes to create a hearty egg sandwich or serve them with mashed plantain, fresh local cheese, and avocados. A rich cup of Costa Rican coffee with its smooth notes of nuts and fruit would end our feast.