I had meant to write this post about a Costa Rican food specialty back in April, but to be honest I simply forgot. I was going to then wait until next April to write it, but I figured I’d just forget it again. Plus, it’s not like most people who read this will have access to flor de itabo if they’re outside of Costa Rica. So, since it’s more of a curiosity, I’ll just talk about it now.
As you can probably get from the name, it’s a type of flower, and it blooms from a spiky, yucca-like plant called itabo, although the plant’s trunk/base is actually usually a few meters high. I think it’s actually a type of cane. I wrote about it on my personal blog a few years back, so you can check that out here if you want.
The main idea is, when you find this plant blooming, you cut off the whole top, spikes and all, and then get the flowers. I asked if it was really necessary to cut off the whole top including the spikes, since it just leaves an ugly post, but everyone around here assured me that it was definitely necessary. Meaning: maybe. Then, you cut off the bunch of flowers and bloom/bud pods.
The petals of the flowers are generally the tastiest part, but you can also eat the pods. They’re just a bit more bitter. You do want to try to remove the stamens or whatever they’re called (my botany class from 8th grade is failing me now), since they’re basically flower penises, and it’s best to avoid them in a macho country.
After that, wash them well and pat them dry. It’s usually eaten with scrambled eggs, but I’m sure you could make numerous other dishes with them. I just wouldn’t be the one to tell you what those dishes are. Personally, I like them with tortillas and/or rice and beans, but I suppose they can go well with whatever you’re eating, unless it’s tripe or chocolate cake, or something where it’s just nasty to think about combining them with edible flowers.
Here’s the step-by-step:
What about you? Have you tried this? If you’re Costa Rican, the answer is almost surely “yes,” but if you’ve only been here as a tourist, you’d have to come at just the right time of year to try it. You’d also need to sneak into a coffee field and take a machete, unless you want to take the easy way out and just buy it from the guys who sell it right near the toll booth on the Pan-American Highway. Lame.
Anyhow, if you liked this or have any other ideas for Costa Rican food posts, please tell me–I’d be happy to hear comments.
Thanks for reading!