Food_court You’ve heard all about Berny’s, our MOST favorite restaurant in Costa Rica. Tonight, you get to hear about the only other place where we look forward to eating which is, tragically, the food court at the mall. Perhaps with teenagers, that would be true anywhere. (We wouldn’t know. When you live in Key West, the closest mall is 100 miles away. Kinda far for dinner.)

At the food court, the boys get to have exactly what they want – which often requires trips to more than one bar – and you can fill ’em up for relatively little money. Ever tried to fill up two teen boys with sushi? You gotta sell a gold coin first.

I call it "tragic" because eating-out choices in Costa Rica, spoiled as we are by the Key West restaurant scene, are pretty dismal. Apparently, if you want to spend big money and drive to San Jose, you can get a great meal. I need to be convinced that’s true.

We’ve made the effort with regular food, trust me. We’ve tried pizza and Chinese food several times. Forget Chinese food altogether and don’t bother with pizza unless you are going to Pizza Hut. Hal and I even went to what is touted as the best Chinese restaurant in San Jose and were disappointed. Beautiful restaurant, very good presentation, tasty food, but not great by any means, and definitely not worth the price.

We’ve tried three sushi restaurants, but at two of them, um, refrigeration is an issue. Call me crazy, but I’m picky that way. Today, a new friend told me about an Italian place near us. She’s been right on the money on several subjects, so we are looking forward to giving that a go.

But, for the most part, we eat in. Happily for me and the boys, we are married to Hal. Who is not only a lovely, kind, handsome, extremely intelligent and generous man who adores us, BUT – and this is the most important thing – he is an incredible cook. He can go into the kitchen where I would swear we have nothing and produce magic. Delicious, beautiful magic.

I, on the other hand, am the perfect person to cook for if you like to cook. I am very vocal – I love the presentation, the taste, I ooh and aah. Very gratifying for the chefs I have known. So, see? I contribute.

Oh – and thank goodness there IS a food court. AND a mall!!!! I didn’t expect a mall in Costa Rica. Near the end of our first month here, I’d seen NOTHING that looked familiar except McDonalds. When we found out there WAS a mall, I was SO excited. I guess I was pretty desperate for something familiar even if it was going to be bright flourescent lights, wide open spaces with tile floors and too many high-priced stores. Coming over the hill and seeing the huge modern Paseo de las Flores below us… well, I almost cried! Culture shock does funny things to you… your priorities get a little screwy.

And it was better than I imagined, so lovely to walk thru that first time: a 4-plex movie theatre, Levis, sports shoe stores, GNC, Radio Shack, video rentals, huge discount appliance stores, Office Max…. and a humongous food court selling every junk food imaginable. I was practically drunk on the sights, the sounds, the smells.

Funny, though, after about 30 minutes, like any mall, I had to get out of there. My nerves couldn’t take it. Now I know exactly where to get my fix which, thankfully, I need less and less as time goes by. These days, we don’t have to walk all the way thru the mall. We just go in the food court door, eat, and run!!! Pura vida!

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