HOW DO COSTA RICANS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS? By Eating Tamales.They gather the families together and eat tamales. The Costa Rican Tamale is made from corn masa as the base and it is filled with many different ingredients. Among these are primarily pork, and then add sweet red pepper, carrots, green beans, olives, finely chopped garlic, onions, prunes or raisins, potatoes and salt and pepper. Wrap it all up in a large banana leaf and tie together with string. Place them in a large pot of boiling water and cook for around 4 hours. Some people, especially in the countryside cook them over an open fire.
Often an afternoon cup of delicious Costa Rican coffee is served with a freshly prepared tamale. Tamales are even eaten at breakfast. So you can see Costa Ricans are serious about tamales.
Mexican Tamales are a little different. They are wrapped in corn husks and jalapena peppers are added to the other ingredients to give it a much more spicy flavor. I would like to thank Alberto Font for the use of the below photo of a Costa Rica tamale.
As a new bride I came with my Costa Rica husband to celebrate our first Christmas together. I was raised in the south (USA) where turkey and dressing, mashed sweet potatoes, steamed green beans, and pumpkin pie was the annual Christmas dinner. Well, I was surprised when my mother in law served a large plate with a lone tamale. I watched as the banana leaves were unwrapped as if the tamale was a gift. I tasted mine and thought “How am I going to be able to eat this.” “Everyone is watching me” It takes time to cultivate a taste for this famous Christmas dish. For me at first it was much too bland. With time I learned to eat tamales but to add variety I served rice and a green garden salad.