Fresh fruit, Costa Rican style

One of my most vivid travel memories was the first time I tasted fruit in Costa Rica. I was staying with a host family, and upon arrival they served me a plate of pineapple as a welcome snack. Nothing could prepare me for that first bite. It was sweet and tangy beyond belief, like a piece of sour candy that had just been plucked straight off the plant. I certainly did not lack for fresh produce growing up in the snowy climes of the Midwest, but your average pineapple in Chicago has traveled thousands of miles to reach the basket sitting on my kitchen counter. Not exactly ideal conditions for ripening and flavor.

After pineapple, I sampled several other interesting produce items like the tamarind, which is often consumed in liquid form and has a flavor I found similar to apple juice. But my favorite fruit snack during my visit was the Costa Rican mango. Other Gadling bloggers like Karen have sung the praises of mangoes before, and I have to agree. The great thing about many Central American countries like Costa Rica is they like to add an extra “kick” to their mango snack. After cutting the fruit into slices, they throw it in a plastic bag and add in a mixture of lime juice, salt and chili powder. The sweet, the sour, the savory and the spicy all rolled into one; there’s no other flavor like it.

Lucky for us North Americans, this delicious mango snack is sold by street vendors in many major urban areas – I recently discovered it for sale here in New York. Or you can make your own – I can’t promise it will taste as good as eating it in the tropics, but I’m sure it’s still delicious.