Thanksgiving is one of the most celebrated American holidays in Costa Rica; every year, thousands of expats gather to give thanks and dine on foods that commemorate the autumn harvest. Whether celebrating with family or new friends, it’s a day to relish familiar dishes flavored with a tropical twist – usually fresh fruits or Costa Rican versions of familiar Thanksgiving staples.
As more U.S. citizens have made Costa Rica their permanent home, the Thanksgiving celebration has grown, although yams and fresh cranberries continue to be rare commodities. Today, some restaurants in the Central Valley and in some beach areas offer Thanksgiving dinners as good as any that can be found in their U.S. counterparts.
Thanksgiving Costa Rican way:
Turkeys in Costa Rica are quite an investment, but with a bit of flexibility, a Thanksgiving meal with some Costa Rican substitutes can be recreated and maintain the true spirit of Thanksgiving, which is to be grateful and share with family and friends.
Roast some chickens instead of turkey; add some fresh rosemary, lime zest, olive oil and chili peppers under the skin for a flavorful twist. Use “camotes” or Costa Rican sweet potatoes which are more of a cream color than the traditional orange from The States, but just as sweet and delicious. “Ayote” or squash can be a substitute for pumpkin in a pie. Cranberries can be bought frozen.
Costa Rican culture is one of gratitude all year-long, this comes from the religious influence on the mindset that luck doesn’t play a part in life. Rather any event or even an individual’s health is down to the grace of God, and this is part of everyday speech. “Si Dios quiere” (if God wills it) proceeds with most intentions for the future and forms an integral part of the culture.
No matter how it is celebrated, the sentiments behind the Thanksgiving Holiday are universal; get together with those loved ones and share a meal — taking time to enjoy the company of those most important in life.