Eating Alone in Costa Rica
Be careful what you wish for, because you just might end up eating your words.
I once wished I would never have to share my food with family or friends. Here's how I feel about that now:
Being a travel journalist in Costa Rica is glorious. My blessings stem far and wide (and soon, so will my stomach). I eat, drink, and experience ridiculously amazing food at restaurants most people never fathom visiting. I've dined in front of panoramic views of the beach and river at the Nosara Biological Reserve; I've had about 15 servings of thinly sliced local tuna "Carpaccio" with fresh citrus; I've had the equivalent of a whole tree of plantains in my hotel breakfast feasts; I've had both shrimp and jalapenos wrapped in bacon; I've had ceviche with fresh seabass, red snapper, octopus, shrimp, and more local fish I don't even recognize; and I've had Costa Rican natives prepare me typical casados from the kitchens of their own homes.
Wow! That's a list worth taunting - and it doesn't even skim the surface of what I've consumed. It's just…there's one common denominator in all of those extravagant eating experiences…I've been eating alone.
As a result of my independent dining, my social capabilities, willingness to be bold, and the true limits of my stomach have become evident. I started out my work by finishing just about every plate that came my way. Slowly but surely, I started backing off on the portion size — realizing these gourmet meals weren't far and few between — this was to be my life for the next three months.
Gourmet meals don’t just mean a nice salad, followed by a formal entrée, a unique dessert and coffee to boot — they're full-blown, pedal-to-the-metal four, five, or sometimes six-course meal — all to myself. It's incredible, but again, it all tastes so different when not shared.
In the midst of my solo meals, I've also met some incredible chefs, fellow diners with amazing stories, and I've been blessed with the lovely experience of being hit-on by the incredibly charming Costa Rican men. So it does pay off to dine alone, sometimes.
Not surprisingly, the meals where I had someone to chat with have been the most memorable. For example, I'll definitely remember the ravioli with Bolognese sauce I scarfed down on a rainy night at Mr. Lelluz in Playa Samara while a cute Costa Rican boy chatted with me about how I can relax and become more "pura vida."
Nevertheless, I suppose my point is this: everything tastes better when shared.
Okay, wait, I take that back. I really am happy I didn't have to share my organic Costa Rican chocolate molten lava cake and two scoops of ice cream the other night at Gusto Beach Sports Club in Playa Samara.
Honorable shared-meal mentions: the family-style pizza and pasta meals at Sol y Mar in Playa Garza, the uplifting conversation over vegetarian deliciousness at the Ananda Kutir Dining Hall of the Nosara Yoga Village, and the many giggles during beachside meals I've had with my boss.