If the concepts were to be associated with Costa Rica, a probable average of the answers would include: the country of “Pura Vida”, the absence of an army, its “green” color – alluding to its biodiversity – and the happiest country in the world. I would add, from the point of view of an expatriate Costa Rican, that if it is a country rich in species, both plant and animal, a country that enjoys good living and that there is a significant investment of its GDP in education.
Costa Rican cuisine
There is no objective and differentiating mention of culinary culture, despite the fact that there is an identity of its own. The preamble to the culinary experience is globalization. A marked tendency to “look out”. Of course, a phenomenon in which all countries participate. It is the starting point from which the idea – the reality – which Costa Rican gastronomy is one of the central axes of our culture begins to develop. More importantly, it is one of the axes that connects the Tico company, despite its contrasts. Concepts which, although already being practiced elsewhere, Costa Rica still had to plan the movements to join this framework.
“We owe a debt to our ancestors” – Alfredo Echeverría
During this period of production and organization of resources – human, economic, private and public, etc. – contacts are made with bibliographic material from the National Institute of Biodiversity: “Edible Plants of Central America”. This collection of native species from the region served as a scientific basis for this national plan.
In 2011, the National Plan for Sustainable and Healthy Costa Rican Gastronomy was published for the first time. A proposal from civil society – i.e. non-state in nature – with the aim of saving local culinary traditions, using indigenous and endemic ingredients – as distinctive – of sustainable origin. A methodology that is responsible for linking the country’s resources, capitalizing on their size to unify them more effectively. Understand this union as a means of uniting forces on an equal footing, in the absence of hierarchies. An inclusive system capable of enhancing the historical value of gastronomic idiosyncrasy and, also, capable of innovating with identity.
the PNGCSS (National Plan for Sustainable and Healthy Costa Rican Gastronomy) becomes a tool capable of contributing to horizontal socio-economic development. The country’s idea of “sustainable green” and “biodiversity protection” applied to the livelihoods production chain. The new standard: seeking responsible agricultural processes, accompanied by changes in the “accessible consumption” of local products for society.
In this way, new dimensions are attributed to the concept of “gastronomy”. Food becomes the common denominator, but it is not limited to culinary practices. Therefore, this new concept opens the doors to other fields of science and productivity, transforming it into a multisectoral movement of national scope.
For the year 2015, due to the growth and exponential acceptance of the National Plan for a Sustainable and Healthy Costa Rican Gastronomy, marks the moment when the Government of Costa Rica declares it of public interest. From there, the volume of presence of elements of a Costa Rican character in the gastronomic offer increases. Even the school canteen service is modified with a sustainable and healthy culinary proposal based on these values.
At present, the gastronomic offer that responds to the “new Costa Rican cuisine” is more easily observed. A growing trend that promises permanence. However, this is not a new concept in itself. It is the fruit of cultural appropriation. It is the fruit of education and communication work. It is the beginning of what can be a first world cuisine. In the words of Don Alfredo Echeverría “We owe a debt to our ancestors”; a debt that will be paid in the short term thanks to the joint effort.