Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lunch in Central America

On our recent Panama Canal cruise we ate most of our meals aboard the ship, which was fully provisioned in San Diego, so we didn't get local food.  But occasionally our shore excursions would include a stop for lunch, and here are three of the best ones.

Lunch #1: Todos Santos, Mexico.  We were told that Todos Santos, a hot, dusty 2-hour drive north from Cabo San Lucas in Baja California, was an artist colony and a picturesque village.  It was actually a dump, at least the part we got to see.  The "art" was to be found in tacky souvenir shops.  But lunch was really lovely -- halibut and shrimp in a mild, pale green sauce, with pomegranate seeds on the side!

Lunch #2: Antigua, Guatemala.  We visited a coffee plantation that also caters to tourists, with a hotel, restaurant and fancy event spaces.  Our lunch had a steak and a chorizo sausage, plus tortilla, guacamole, rice and black beans.  I loved the beans, smooth and dry, and need to figure out the recipe!

Lunch #3: Quirigua, Guatemala.  (By now on the Caribbean side, not the Pacific.)  We visited a national park of Mayan ruins, with lots of ceremonial stones and sculptures as well as some remains of buildings.  On the way back, exhausted and hot, we stopped for lunch.  Almost everybody except me ordered chicken -- and were jealous when they saw my steak!  More of those black beans, guacamole and plantains, and the ubiquitous tortilla.

And then for dessert, fresh mango.  I never thought I liked mango when I had it at home, but this was superb, and as we all got up to get back on the bus I ate any mango slices left behind by my fellow travelers.  Maybe this was a different variety than we get in the U.S. grocery?  Or it was ten times fresher?  Or I've had an enlightenment?


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