Friday, June 01, 2007

Funny How Things Remind You...

Whenever you get back from Italy you think there is no point ever cooking again, you will never recreate such lovely food....

Says nmj

I am inclined to agree.

She reminds me of the time we emerged from a jungle track in Costa Rica, to see a sign in Italian:

Pizza! Al Forno di Legno!

We had driven through a 'monkey trail' in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, in search of a secluded beach about which we had been told. Playa Prieta is a beautiful white sand beach edged by the jungle and buffeted by huge pacific waves. It is a paradise if ever there was one. If you are really lucky, howler monkeys will visit, curious to investigate your presence. Even in high season you are unlikely to see any visitors there apart from a handful of local people. It is too far off the beaten track for most tourists to bother.

Playa Prieta

'Monkey trails' are the rough tracks that cut through the jungle of the Guanacaste region, and offer shortcuts for the very brave from one main road to the next. 'Main road' is something of a misnomer in Costa Rica. Anything but the Pan American highway is nothing more than a dirt track, full of potholes and very slow going. The monkey trails are so but with bells on. Cut through the jungle, they link small communities who are more used to travelling by horse back. These days most have vehicles, but you are a brave person to attempt it without a jeep, a spare wheel, a jack and the nouse to use it. Or a horse.

We forded rivers, scrambled over tree stumps, went eeny-meeny-miney-mo at every junction and, fingers crossed tightly, emerged at the small community of Portrero. And then I saw the sign.

Pizza! Al Forno di Legno!

My Italian is not great, but I knew that this meant pizzas baked in a wood burning oven. The Husband was beside himself. His favourite food ever - since a trip to Italy the previous year when my sister had introduced him to the sheer joy of a genuine Italian pizza - found on the edge of the Costa Rican jungle.

We stopped at the small hotel, owned by a family from Milan. They really did have a wood-burning oven, and the pizza was spectacular. Neither our Italian nor our Spanish were good enough to establish why they were living on the edge of the jungle in a remote part of Guanacaste. That was ok. It allowed us to make up their story as we ate our pizza.

We saw a turqoise-browed motmot as we left. I am a secret twitcher, and as I spied it through my binoculars I felt even more excited than I had the time I spotted a migrant hoopoe in Anglesey.

Turqoise-browed motmot

A few days later we saw a Jabiru, after a very arduous three hour drive along the roughest of roads and a change of wheel at the roadside. It was well worth it. This is a monster of a wading bird, at almost four foot high, and from a distance looks like a little old man in an overcoat.

The magnificent jabiru

Costa Rica is a very special place. They welcome tourists - their economy depends upon it - and yet they remain committed to sustainable tourism and protecting their natural inheritance. We were woken by howler monkeys each morning at 5am. We saw Iguanas sunning themselves in the midday sun as we drank our pipas frias, and fireflies lighting up the bush at night. We saw huge Olive Ridley Turtles clambering up the beach at night, and tiny turtles making their way back to the sea.

Iguana, sunning itself




The pipas frias seller in Playa del Coco

And Portero has the most wonderful pizza al forno di legno.


77 comments:

Stray said...

:) So lovely!

Fab photos Ms M ... I feel warm all over and I haven't even been drinking.

Sx

Jude said...

Wow!

Pizza after all that trekking sounds perfect.

I will try not to think about my diet.

There are leggings to try to fit into....

x

bindi said...

Beautiful pics. A sign like that would work on me and my family too - we would be lured in like people in a trance.

Sodade said...

Yes, I can feel it again: Italy. It's been over 10 y now since my last stay, but o boy, the food. Thanks for bringing this back to me. I think I'll have pizza today. Or tomato mozarella with balsamico vinegar topped with some sweet basil...

trousers said...

I think there's also the sense, after all that trekking and effort, that you really DESERVE the pizza - and it tastes all the better for that.

Sounds like you had a really good time there - great post. As with sodade, it gets me thinking back to my one stay in Italy, which was a special time for all sorts of reasons. One thing that really stands out is the very basic dishes: how seemingly simple food could be done to exquisite perfection.

NMJ said...

Hey Ms M, That's it exactly, what Trousers says - the food in Italy is often simple enough but done to exquisite perfection. They throw some salami & cheese together & it looks like art - here it would look like salami & cheese thrown together x

Caroline said...

Love the photos. I used to have a pet iguana called Alabama and your photo made me think of her.

Random comments just for a change.

Hugs x

That's so pants said...

I suppose the only appropriate response is to laugh and cry at the same time.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Stray, :) xxx

Hi Jude, surely the great thing about leggings is you can squeeze into them, even after a couple of pizzas? May not look so good, granted...

Hi Bindi, mmm pizza, as Homer would say.

Hey sodade, thanks for dropping in.

Hi there trousers, yes, simplicity is the key. And fabulous ingredients of course.

Hi nmj, ditto x

Hey lovely Caroline random is fine. It was a bit of a random post to be honest x

Hey Pants, - a little bit too random though?

Boris said...

Pizza rules the world.

Can I carry your bag next time you go? (only expensive/exotic locations, I'm not carrying your bag round Morrisons)

Boris

Probably the best blog in the world said...

Cool pictures. Cooking is over rated anyway. I should have shares in my local balti house take away. From the blogger formerly known as brumcunian. x

Miss Tickle said...

It looks gorgeous. I am jealous. xx

Ms Melancholy said...

Hey Boris, I thought that offer was too good to be true.

Hi Brum, cool name. When did you start that?

Hi there Miss Tickle, it was sooooo beautiful. You must visit one day.

Probably the best blog in the world said...

Ms M,

Friday I think. It leads on from a previous post of my former blogging self. Take a look one day. x

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