One of the most exciting opportunities I had while studying in Costa Rica is the cooking class that is offered once a week for foreign students. One pass includes four different classes and each week is a new recipe. Originally, my friend and I were unsure if we should sign up, but we did as a way to fill time in the middle of the day, and I am so glad we did. The weeks alternate between sweet and savory recipes, so with an obvious sweet tooth, I loved the weeks where we made desserts! Although everything tasted amazing!
Over the course of the class I made gallo pinto, banana coconut cupcakes, fried mango rollups, and picadillo de papa con carne. My favorite was probably the cupcakes because I love coconut and banana, but it’s a hard choice. The other nice part about the cooking class is you can pick and choose which ones you attend, so if potatoes aren’t your thing, you can skip it and go the week after, to make another dessert, or empanadas, or something else equally delicious.
During the four weeks, cooking class became time for me to sit back, unwind, talk to other students, cook, and eat really good food. Living in a homestay you get to taste some traditional food, but at least for me meals at home aren’t varied very much, so this class was a way to explore other foods I wasn’t trying at home. The relaxed environment at cooking class also felt more comfortable too, so it wasn’t awkward watching someone cook for an hour, which I don’t think I would have been comfortable with doing at my homestay.
Cooking class opened up new flavors I had never tried and dispelled misconceptions I had about Latin American cooking. Unlike what I thought before I came to Costa Rica, food here isn’t spicy, in fact, it’s a lot of comfort food. I was also surprised at how big a part fruit played in to the recipes and dessert commonly made in Costa Rica.
Each class was full of new smells and tastes that were full of passion and culture that made me feel at home. Not only that, but just like being at home I sometimes got to leave with leftovers! If you have a chance, make sure you take the cooking class with Jeannette because it is worth the time and money for the class, the lunch, and the leftovers. Maybe there is some truth to the old saying that the way to a man’s (or woman’s) heart is through their stomach and maybe, just maybe, it is one of the best ways to explore someone else’s culture, so put on the oven mitts, sit down, and find the heart in the kitchen.