Costa Rican bocas n’ booze

Though the free service is rapidly disappearing, a few holdout bars in Costa Rica serve bocas with each drink. Bocas (translating to mouthfuls) are a variety of traditional foods served in small amounts, from black bean soup, to a couple of chicken wings, perhaps a small amount of ceviche, a small bowl of olla de carne, or fried yucca or pork strips. Some rural bars still provide bocas free of charge, most bars today have a small charge with their boca menu.

Often in cantinas, Ticos like to swallow down raw turtle eggs in a sweet, spicey sauce. They say it gives them the ‘strength of lions’. I tried a test on a Tico one time, blind-folded him because the turtle yoke is darker, and offered him a small raw chicken egg in the same sauce. He couldn’t tell the difference. At the time I thought I pulled a fast one, as chicken eggs are not quite as endangered at turtle eggs, and I was going to give the environmental movement a huge boost in the arm. However, Playa Ostional has a sustainable program of turtle egg gathering.

All imported soda pop and liquor, wine and beer are expensive so I suggest you check out the local hooch. ‘Que tiene natural?’ translates to, ‘What natural fruit juices do you have available?’, and there really isn’t a bad one, be brave, you probably won’t be disappointed. And if you really want to go native, throw in a shot of Guaro. The word ‘Guaro’ is synonymous with ‘booze’, though the real Guaro is Costa Rica’s native liquor, compared to moonshine in some circles, a near tasteless, clear product made from fermented sugarcane. Hangovers are included, especially because it goes with nearly everything, just like vodka. If you are a die-hard beer drinker, Pilsen, Imperial and Bavaria are the three most popular brands, and all taste like beer to me! I prefer my beer with a squeeze of limon, the local lime.

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