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These stories were published Friday, Jan. 7, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 5
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A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Hugo Barrantes Ureña, the archbishop of San José, is surrounded by incense during a procession at the Catedral Metropolitana Thursday where hundreds of dignitaries gathered to mark World Peace Day with a Roman Catholic Mass.

 
In appreciation of water and gallo pinto
I was wondering at lunch the other day why water never became a god.  My companions reminded me that some people paid homage to a rain god (mainly when they wanted rain), and there are sea gods in the person of Neptune and Oceanus, and Osiris is considered a river god and therefore a water god.  But I was thinking in terms of plain old water. All we seem to have is the eleventh sign of the Zodiac, Aquarius, the Water Bearer. About the only notable time water was mentioned in the New Testament was when Jesus changed it into wine

Water is a necessary condition for life to even be possible. And it is primary, next to air, in keeping life going.  It is necessary to grow the crops we eat and to keep ourselves clean and sanitary.  Too little of it, and we get sick and die. Too much of it, and we die. In short, it can give life or destroy it. Seems a pretty powerful element to me to have been overlooked when the status of god was being given out. 

Perhaps because it comes in so many forms. But isn’t that one of the properties a god should have? And finally, when it comes to the concept that god is within us all, if that god were water, it certainly would be true.  Whatever, I think water is the Rodney Dangerfield of elements.

However, since no one else seemed that interested in the subject, our talk turned to food.  Early this week I had an early morning appointment at the Clinica Durán. I was out of there by 9:30, waiting for the bus and looking forward to breakfast. I have not developed a taste and certainly not a craving for it. So I was surprised to feel like wanting some gallo pinto. 

Across the street from the bus stop is a little soda, Soda Miriam. I mean little.  I had noticed it on my other visits to the clinic and thought it looked rather inviting: With its white tableclothed tables in front of each of the two large windows flanking the entryway. 

On impulse I cross the street and entered. As soon as I walked in I had second thoughts.  There were only five tables in the place. The white chairs, plastic as were the tablecloths, were quite dirty.  The people sitting at two of the tables were drinking only coffee (bad sign — no food).  There was a counter with a steam

xxx
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

xxx
table and a young woman behind it as well as a very tall, solidly built young man nearby. 

Since all eyes were on me, I felt I must forge on.  Fortunately in the steam table was gallo pinto — that mixture of rice and beans I thought I wanted.  I ordered that.  Being queried further, I added, a fried egg, café con leche.  Y "nada mas."  I added firmly, and sat down at one of the tables in the window. I wanted to order as little as possible so what I knew I was going to leave, wouldn’t look so insulting.  I pulled out my book and lost myself in "The Transit of Venus." 

Shortly my plate of gallo pinto arrived — a small mountain of it, and on a separate plate, a fried egg.  The white looked like it had been deep fried and the yolk as if it had escaped cooking altogether.  I asked if it could be done over easy and the tall fellow who was my waiter, dutifully took it away.  It came back hard fried.  He also brought a cup of watermelon chunks and my café con leche and some hot sauce. 

I cut up the egg and added it to my gallo pinto, sprinkled on some hot sauce and took a bite.  It was exactly what I had imagined that I wanted.  My coffee was hot and delicious, and the watermelon refreshing. I finished everything. I was even brought a glass of water.  The only disturbing aspect was the tall young man who hovered, about three feet away, watching me eat.  I am accustomed to this in stores, but not in restaurants.

My life has changed a bit since that breakfast.  Having heard of the dangers of dehydration, I salute the ungod water by drinking a glass of water every morning, just to get the day started, and I think about having a plate of gallo pinto again, soon. 

I am even thinking of buying some black beans and making it myself, but it is a lot of work, and that whole breakfast cost only 750 colones  ($1.65), and I didn’t have to wash the dishes.

 
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Tennis tournament ends
this Saturday in Escazú

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Copa de Café will wrap up this weekend at the Costa Rican Country Club in Escazú. The Copa is a junior tennis tournament that is held annually in the suburb of San José and usually draws the best junior players from around the world. 

The tournament began last weekend and will run until the finals Saturday. The tournament features four main draws, boys’ singles and doubles, and girls’ singles and doubles. 

The semifinal rounds began this morning at 10 a.m. with girls doubles and will conclude this evening at 8 p.m. with the final boys’ singles semifinal match. The finals will begin Saturday at noon.

The tournament is widely considered to be one of the most important non-major tournaments in junior tennis. Past participants include Bjorn Borg, Jana Novotna, and Tommy Haas, all of whom have gone on to claim brilliant professional careers. 

Ciudad Colón motorist
dies from crash injuries

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Dutch citizen from Ciudad Colón died Thursday afternoon from injuries he sustained in a car accident. He was David Williams, 20.  The man was freed from the wreckage of his Toyota Yaris in the early hours of Thursday morning. The accident occurred 75 meters east of the Hogar de Ancianos de Brasil in Ciudad Colon. The car left the road and crashed into the gutter. 

In critical condition and on a breathing apparatus, Williams was then taken to the hospital San Juan de Dios where he later died from his injuries. 

German citizen is held
as crack cocaine dealer

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A German man was arrested yesterday by officials from the Puriscal division of the Fuerza Pública. The 55-year-old man, identified by the last name of Claub, was arrested at 6 p.m. at the old Catholic church after a surveillance operation carried out by the Judicial Investigating Organization. Those watching said they saw people openly dealing drugs. 
 

A search carried out by officials at the property of the suspect in Puriscal found materials to make crack cocaine and weighing equipment. Large quantities of crack cocaine and a 38-caliber gun were also found. The suspect is also accused of being a drug supplier to the beach town of Quepos where some of the customers were tourists. In the suspect’s pockets officials reported they found 19 rocks of crack and $100 in cash. 

Desamparados man dies
at hands of motorcycle duo

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Gunmen on a motorcycle killed a 24-year-old father of two Wednesday night.

The man was identified as Roy Gamboa Cerdas of San Juan de Dios in Desamparados.

The killing took place in the urbanization La Capri. That subdivision is in San Miguel de Desamparados.

Police said that two men on a white motorcycle pulled alongside the vehicle being driven by Gamboa and shot him in the neck. The vehicle weaved off the road and smashed into a fence.

Investigators said they think the gunmen were trying to commit a robbery but they did not rule out the possibility that the man was the target of assassins.
 
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All you ever wanted to know about wursts and more
Confessions of fatty food lovers even emanate from over-the-hill cardiologists. 

Hello, my name is Lenny and I'm a sausage addict. 

When we moved here, my wife and I went to the local Pali and bought lengths of the brick-colored encased salchichas. They were as tasteless as British bangers. Next I tried the same form with the name Italia on the side. No fennel flavor, no discernable spice. 

OK, time for chorizo, but it wasn’t orange like the Mexican, and it had no chili powder, paprika, garlic etc. that I could taste, nor was it Spanish dry ham chorizo. The Zar Mexican chorizo was a little better than the others.

One product confused me, but, hooray, it was a lean and well spiced sausage. The brand is Montecillos (made in Alajuela) embutidos (sausages). The back label also calls it chorizo, kielbasa style. 

It does indeed taste like a Polish sausage missing a little garlic. It is fine baked, broiled or boiled. Another Alajuela company, Tega, makes a bland but passable white sausage, salchicha blanca.

Off we went to the neighborhood pizzeria. The sausage and pepperoni pizza had bits of hot dog on top, not sausage, and the pepperoni was mild salami. The large American pizza chain served crumbled bits of salty ground meat with little additional flavor on its pies and called it sausage.

For Italian sausage, relief came from a home source. I learned that Sharon Wallace, M.D., when not delivering babies, raises hogs beyond Ciudad Colón and makes her own sausage with the finest grade fennel seed.

At the Alajuela Saturday morning produce market and in San Jose’s Asian markets, they sell decent quality lap cheong, sweet dried Chinese sausage. Tom Tom, the German deli just past Sorretto’s market in Escazu, is the treasure trove. They have blutwurst, bockwurst, bratwurst, knackwurst, Polish sausage, Vienna sausage and weisswurst (along with rye bread, matjes herring and smoked eel). They are all traditional and very tasty.

Andouille, bangers, linguica and merguez occasionally appear in freezers in the larger markets. There are hundreds more, but not that I have seen here. What follows is a thumbnail sketch of our sausages, excluding salamis, hams, dried varieties and jerkeys:

American breakfast sausage is ground pork seasoned with black pepper, sage and summer savory. 

Andouilles are Cajun sausages loaded with cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic and cumin, New Orleans style. When the Nova Scotia Acadians, originally from Brittany and Normandy, arrived in Louisiana, they became Cajuns and their sausage makers added Creole spice and heat to their old world recipes. 

Bangers are British bland beef sausages usually served with mashed potatoes and Coleman’s mustard. 

Blutwurst, the Irish version of blood sausage, is made from pig’s blood, milk and bacon fat. The French, boudin noir, substitutes créme fraiche for the milk and adds onions. The Spanish version replaces the créme fraiche with rice. 

Bockwurst is smoked, coarsely ground, pale German veal sausage with pork, seasoned lightly with powders of mace, ginger, onion and parsley, plus eggs and milk. It is eaten with sweet mustard and Bock beer. 

Bratwurst, dark brown and spicy, literally means fried sausage. It is made of veal and pork strongly seasoned with caraway, ginger, mace and marjoram. It is frequently boiled in beer after smoking, before 

Dr. Lenny Karpman

On 
the 
food
we eat

 

simmering or grilling. Dark German mustard goes best with it. 

Chorizo is Mexican style red-orange sausage made with ground fatty cuts of pork, chili powder, paprika, onion, garlic and vinegar. It must be cooked thoroughly. It bears no resemblance to Spanish chorizo which is more like dried pepperoni made from ham. 

Italian sausage is made from pork and is usually seasoned with fennel seed, black pepper, parsley and salt. The hot version adds red pepper flakes. 

Knockwurst is smoked pork or beef garlic sausage, short, plump and juicy, usually boiled and skinned, but may be grilled. The beef variety is a kosher style favorite, plated with hot sweet Russian mustard and sauerkraut. It will be available again at Little Israel in Pavas when the Ministry of Health OK’s importation of American beef.

Linguica is Portuguese sausage made from pork trim and tongue, seasoned with garlic, coriander, paprika and vinegar, precooked and served hot or cold. 

Lap cheong is sweet, firm orange colored anise flavored sausage originally from China. Usually it is steamed in a rice flour bun, cooked in clay pot dishes or thinly sliced and steamed over white rice. 

Merguez is hot and spicy North African lamb sausage sold in coils and often served with couscous. It contains coriander, cumin and chili peppers. 

Polish sausage or kielbasa is fresh, uncooked and unsmoked sausage, made from pork, with a little beef and/or veal usually added for body. It is seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and sometimes a touch of marjoram. The Krakowska style is seasoned with pepper, allspice, coriander and garlic, packed into large casings and cooked in aromatic hot smoke. 

Vienna sausages are wieners, frankfurters and hot dogs by different names. Many are filled with cereal as well as meat scraps. 

Weisswurst means white sausage. It is delicate veal, bacon, cream and egg wurst from Munich, seasoned with parsley and lemon. Simmered and peeled, it goes well with sweet mustard on a hard roll. 

Telehone numbers: Sharon Wallace: 249-4630, Tom Tom: 228-7020, Little Israel: 290-2083, Sausage 12-Step Program: unlisted 

Word of Mouth: Congratulations to Patrice, LeBrasserie Parisienne’s new owner on his lovely changes in the garden and sitting area next to the still magnificent bar and dining room, and on acquiring his new schnauzer puppy, Bruno. 

Seattle’s loss is Monteverde Lodge’s gain. New chef, Jorge Martinez, is off to a flying start, drawing raves. 


 
Chilean diplomat visiting here to seek support for nation's OAS choice
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The foreign minister of Chile will be in town today promoting the candidacy of a countryman for the post of secretary general of the Organization of American States.

The foreign minister is Ignacio Walker Prieto, and he will meet with Roberto Tovar, the minister of Relaciones Exteriores y Culto here. The meeting will be at Casa Amarilla, the foreign ministry.

Walker Prieto is promoting the candidacy of José Miguel Insulza, a former foreign minister of Chile.

The post became open last Oct. 8 when former Costa Rican president Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Echerverría 

became embroiled in a financial scandal and had to return here. Rodríguez now is in preventative detention in La Reforma prison.

Walker Prieto may face an uphill battle. Central American states lean towards a candidate from Central America. The U.S. State Department Wednesday also said the official position of that country is that the new general secretary should be from Central America. They also said someone who was an ex-president is preferred.

The only possible candidate who meets those qualifications is former Salvadoran President Francisco Flores. Other candidates are from Honduras and El Salvador, but they have not risen to the level of president of their country.


 
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