Sunday, October 11, 2015


Humble Meal

I've written about Pastor tacos, Asada tacos, quesadillas Arabe and Arrachera tacos and also Carnitas tacos. I've even had pig meat cut from the pig laying in front of me on a platter. Asada is my least favorite preparation but maybe I haven't had the higher quality that is found somewhere in Mexico. Asada is a step above shoe leather, which I've also had. My most favorite meat* taco is hard to rate because the Arrachera tacos in La Paz are the best due to ambiance and condiments, they are basically prime rib cut into strips on a flour tortilla so the price is high, but the Carnitas plates in Puebla have more variety (7 different parts of the pig including uterus, snout, soul, etc...and the Arabe taco is only found in Puebla and is a rare, delicious taste with added cheese because I am decadent.

But further south along the Spanish-plundered Americas, the cooks dismiss all the fancy details and simply deep fry the pig fat/flesh and roast the meat. The skin is fried until it curls like rock candy and is called "Concha" The meat is simply Chicarrones. Since I have to eat the Concha and meat with my fingers there is a traditional simplicity that I like and the flavor is simple and salty, no fancy sauce or salsa like the Arabe and Pastor.

Skin and Meat
Most people seem to eat this directly out of the bag like I do, but I have seen this prepared in Mexico by chopping the Concha into smaller pieces and mixing it with chopped meat but the markets here have a meat deli with Concha and Meat by the Kilo, and this particular meal of one piece of meat and two Conchas cost about 600 colones, which is $1.30. The only down side is the skin often has bits of fried fur left on it which don't really taste like hair but the idea of eating fried pig hide fur is not appetizing. But I still like it, which says a lot about the appeal since what other meal can I say I repeatedly buy knowing it will include fried fur?

Some folks in Texas offered me a bag of these...
or others called 'pork cracklings' and these are an abomination, obviously. they have only a mild resemblance to the Concha but are infinitely harder, months old, processed to death, and have all kinds of additional ingredients that make them atrocious. But fresh Chicharrones are delicious.

 Everything in Costa Rica is more expensive. I think this is the place Americans go to when they don't want to move to Florida or already live in Flordia and don't want to move back to New Jersey. But Costa Rica is actually more expensive than Florida. I could buy a mobile home on the Space Coast for $8K and that wouldn't buy me anything in Costa Rica.

But travel wouldn't be travel if I knew what I was getting into when I left.

*Breaded and fried shrimp tacos in La Paz, purchased from a street vendor with fresh condiments are definitely in the all-time Oggy Food Hall of Fame. Fried fish tacos in La Paz are also good but a good shrimp taco with salsa is the best.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.