Free Food From The Montaña

First of all, I should say that my friend Brad came up with the title for this post.
Second of all, I should say that it’s a good title, since it’s true. Since we moved into the new house, we’ve already started to get free food from our lot, and we’ve given exactly zero effort in that direction. The picture above, for example, is of a guyaba tree that was in the lot when we moved in. Good stuff, although not as good as the ones from the store. They’ll be really nice in a month or two, I think.

Let’s look at a couple other things that have sprouted up of late:

If I had seen a tree like this back when I lived in Colorado, I probably would have called it a “palm tree.” And I’d be a dumbass. It’s a sort of banana tree, actually. In this case, the particular kind of smaller, harder banana is called a guineo. These trees are all over here, and the fact that it’s surrounded by dead branches in the area where we burn our trash testifies to the fact that one needs to do very little to promote this thing growing heartliy. Anyhow, the guineos themselves are good cooked, either in soups or in a ceviche.

A bunch of guineos after I cut them off the top of the tree– with my machete, of course! The tree behind me in this picture is the guyaba tree, next to the Crappy Casita, which is getting less and less crappy every day!
Angela cooked these guineos and put them in a black soup, which is basically soup made using bean broth, onions, and hard-boiled egg. Tasty!
Next up: flor de itabo! This is supposedly the national flower of Panama or Guatemala –depending on who you ask and how drunk they are– but here in Costa Rica it’s good eatins! I put up about 10 of these plants with my father-in-law Honorio around 3 months ago to keep the dirt from washing down the side of our mountain. A week ago, one of them suddenly shot out this big flower! And supposedly the season for this flower is sometime around February. In any case, it looks like this when it’s on the plant: like a cactus about to get married.

Anyhow, for our weekly visit to Angela’s folks’ this past Saturday, I talked to Cecilia (my mother-in-law) and asked her if she’d be willing to cook it and let me take pictures while she did so, for the edification of my readers. She heartily agreed, probably ’cause I didn’t actually mention the part about the pictures… In any case, the first step after washing the thing is to take the flower petals off. Those are the best part, but you can also eat the little pods inside, as long as they’ve not sprouted some weird flower parts (some of which are doubtless used for flower sex, which makes it something I’d rather not eat).

Then, put them in a pan with a little butter or oil (you can also put in onion or pepper, I suppose, but we didn’t). If you use the little green pods instead of just the white petals, the whole thing will turn out more bitter, but pleasantly so, at least to my particular palate.
Then, mix in some eggs, and scramble the whole lot of it.
And that’s about it for the itabo! Here Cecilia served it with some homemade tortillas (left) and some tortas de yucca (right), which are a tasty side for any meal.
So that’s it for now, but I’ll keep you updated if more edible stuff crops up in the yard. And remember, there’s nothing quite a rewarding to be able to look at a plate of home-grown food and say to yourself: “I’m Agricultured!”
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11 thoughts on “Free Food From The Montaña

  1. i love flor de itabo, one of my favorite foods!

    we too are agricultured wihtout even really trying; we have mangoes, papayas, oranges, coffee and green beans. if i could only get cacao to grow, i could take care of all my needs!

  2. Definitely, as long as those weird pokey plants put out more flowers! It seems to have been an anomaly that this one came out. At least that’s what I’m guessing; everyone in Berlin is wearing burlap sacks, gnashing their teeth, and shouting “Milagro! Milagro!”
    It’s quite Biblical.

  3. Mmm! I’d eat probably anything Cecilia made! That plate of food looks amazing…


  4. Brad,
    They’ve got some pumpkin sorts of things here; well, I guess they’re actually squash. Apparently, one is growing somewhere in our yard, according to my father-in-law, but I’ve yet to locate it.

  5. Flor de Itabo is Mrs. Q’s favorite Holy Week dish. She can pretty much do everything with this thing.

  6. Pingback: Costa Rican Food: Flor de Itabo | Costa Rica Outsider

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