Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wednesdays in Costa Rica

Every Wednesday morning between 9 and 9:30, the veggie man arrives on our neighborhood. Talk about service! He parks in front of my house, hops out of his truck and taps on gates shouting "VER-DU-RAS! Verduras! Verduras! VER-DU-RAS!" Verduras means vegetables. Along with some of my neighbors, I head outside to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Wednesday is always a day I look forward to for two reasons; first, of course, are the fruits and veggies, and secondly because it is a chance to visit briefly with my neighborhood friends. We talk about our flowers, family, and catch up on what is happening in the neighborhood. This, by the way, is not gossip. We just like being well informed. Anyway, wanted to share some photos of this morning´s veggie adventure with you.

These two ladies are very special friends. They have been neighbors for 35 years.

Doña Estrella is my next door neighbor. She loves roses, African violets, and orchids as much as I do. Doña is a title of respect. When I was growing up on a farm in Kentucky, we called folks Miss or Mr. For example, the folks on the next farm were Clem and Alfie Goodwin. We called them Mr. Clem and Miss Alfie. Estrella means star.

Doña Maruca lives across the street from me. She loves to tell me about her adventures with her sister who lives in Los Angeles, California. She flies up a couple of times a year. She says when she is older she is going to move to the USA and learn English. She 79. LOL

The boys who drive the truck and sell veggies for their dad. Chino, the one in the doorway, is 19 and has just recently been allowed to drive the truck. Chino is his nickname because he (supposedly) looks Chinese. He was very excited to tell me about his experience with some American girls a few days ago. Apparently, they wanted to take lots of photos of the veggie truck and of him. He winked and said he thought the veggies were just an excuse to take photos of him. Cute kid!

El Gordito is the other guy. Again that is just a nickname. It means "the little fat boy". It is not considered offensive to be called that here. Actually it is a term of affection.

Crates of fruits and veggies in the truck.

El Gordito weighing my red cabbage.

These were my purchases for today. I spent the equivalent of $22.

Pineapples. Cantaloupes. Plantians (look like large bananas).

Potatoes. Cucumbers. Tomatoes. Red and white onions.

Bell peppers. Parsley. Cilantro.

Broccoli. Yuca. Squash (I consider it to be more of a pumpkin than a squash).

Red and regular cabbage. Mangoes. Yuca.

Celery. Tangerines. Bananas. Lemon (that´s the large round object beside the tangerines. They call it a limon real).

Close up of the mangoes and the limon real.

Tangerines and limon real.

More of my beautiful veggies.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with plantains......They are the same family as bananas but are larger, the fruit is more of a yellow color, and the flavor is different from that of the banana. A hand of regular sized bananas are sitting on top of the plantains.
Since I buy all these lovely veggies on Wednesday, it is also my soup-making day. Wanted to share that with you too.

I start with a very large pot (this one holds almost 4 gallons). I put a generous amount of olive oil in the pot and start to saute some of the veggies. I start with onions, lots of them.
Add chopped bell peppers.
Chopped tomatoes.
Chopped garlic. Lots of it.
Plenty of celery.
Fresh parsley.
I don´t chop it very fine.
This is called cilantro. In Honduras this is the only kind there was. Here in Costa Rica this is cilantro coyote which means wild cilantro. You can get cilantro in a lot of grogery stores in the USA, but it will not look like this. The cilantro in the USA is very mild flavored whereas cilantro coyote has a much stronger taste. We prefer the cilantro coyote.
Chopped cilantro.
Now that all those veggies are nicely sauteed, I add a kilo of ground beef and cook until the meat is done. While the meat is cooking I am chopping up more veggies. Once the meat is done, I add a couple gallons of water to the pot and start putting in the following veggies.
Here they call this a squash, although it is much more the color and flavor of pumpkin.
The chopped up squash.
This is yuca which you peel and cut in wedges.
Chopped broccoli.
Red cabbage.
Regular cabbage.
I always add plantains to my soup. It tastes great.

And here is my finished pot of soup. I add fresh basil and oregano when I have it.... dried when I don´t have fresh. I salt and pepper to taste.
Hope you enjoyed sharing my day.


Eden said...

Yummy! I love soup, but don't make it very often b/c Steve doesn't care for soup.

Kathleen Rouser said...

Yum! Your pictures are great. Beautiful, fresh produce.
And lovely neighbors and friends. Makes for a nice
Wednesday, I bet.

Amrita said...

Just loved this post Kathy.

Your friends and the veggie truck.

Here they come around with the fruit and veggies in carts.

We also have them all veggies like yours.

The yuca I have not seen. We have plaintains too.Never had them in a soup. We make stir fries with them or chips.
Slice them thinly and deep fry them like potato chips.

Your meat soup looks very hearty.

The quilt is coming up so well

Tori said...

Wow, what a blessing to have so many fresh veggies available.
The soup looks yummy and those photos are great!