Monday, December 20, 2004

The Costa Rican Christmas tamal

Ana Valverde fills chicken tamales. Photo by A.M. Costa RicaThe top Christmas treat requires a production line

By Saray Ramirez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

No Christmas is complete in Costa Rica without tamales, and the tradition includes small home factories that turn out the delicious banana-wrapped parcels.

In Aserri, in the mountains south of San Jose, the Valverde family and the Tamalera Valverde have been producing tamales for 52 years.

Librado Valverde Morales, the current owner, actually was born amid the tamales.

The operation produces 3,000 to 4,000 tamales a day, and the family members and helpers work seven days a week as Christmas approaches.

The dough must be prepared and the dough is filled with chicken, pork, rice and other vegetables. Then the soon-to-be tamales are wrapped in banana leaves and cooked and steamed in a wood-fired stove.

To eat, the tamales are reheated, and Costa Ricans prefer to use boiling water. They let Gringos use the microwave because many feel the modern appliance dries out the tamales. Be careful not to let the water penetrate the banana leaves and ruin the tamales, they warn.

The tamales mark a special moment when the whole family from youngsters to grandparents participate together in the making of the traditional food.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Saving History: A Fight Against Time, Indifference

December 10, 2004

By Uri Ridelman
Special To The Tico Times

On Aug. 2, 2002, the people of Cartago were astounded to find out that the house where part of the family of Ricardo Jiménez Oreamuno (three-time President of Costa Rica) used to live was reduced to rubbish.

This wooden Victorian house was a landmark in the former capital of Costa Rica , not only because of its rich history, but because of its architectural design.

Unfortunately its owners didn't seem to care, and before the house could be officially declared architectural and cultural patrimony of Costa Rica by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCJD), they decided to tear it down.

Ileana Vives, an architect working for the Center of Research and Conservation of Cultural Patrimony (which belongs to the MCJD), said that when the owners found out the house was under study to be declared national patrimony, they decided to demolish it.

“The problem is that if a private building has not yet been declared national patrimony and its owner decides to tear it down, there's nothing we can do,” Vives said, “no matter how valuable or important it might be.”

To read the whole article click here.

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