Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Finding the BEET in Costa Rica

I have seen some large vegetables on the Travel Channel, especially those out of China, but I must talk about the Costa Rican beets.  They are glorious. Not only are they always scrubbed clean, but they are gigantic and healthy with bountiful greens attached.  The beets from Texas were always dirty, even in the nicest supermarkets. And the greens were always browning on the ends and the sizes were never consistent, mostly small to medium sized with pits and bruises.  I have found BEET HEAVEN.  
Now, the weird thing is when buying these gigantic beets in Costa Rica, you have to beg for your greens.  The vendor will always look at you like you are crazy, but I almost cried once when I got home and all my greens had been removed without my noticing.  See, they do not cook the greens here!  I always say, "Yo quiero mis verdes!" I do not even know if I am saying it correctly, but the vendor just looks at me with dismay and leaves the abundant greens alone so I can walk away happy. If anyone knows, the greens are delicious lightly sauteed in the natural juices leftover from cooking the beets.  We have not been successful in finding collard, mustard or even turnip greens. So for now, the beet greens are our substitute, since we are from Texas and greens are a staple in Southern cooking.  The radishes look like sparkling rubies and are also very clean with perfect green ends.  We like to use the radish greens in our salads, but we have to fight for them too!  They are almost peppery, like arugula, but the farmer will tear them off and throw them in his compost pile if you do not tell him you want them.  So beware when shopping in Costa Rican markets, when you find the beet, you might have to fight for your green! 

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