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Savoring Desayuno

Desayuno, or breakfast, was consistently my favorite meal of the day during the Arenal portion of our Costa Rican adventure. Our breakfasts were complimentary at our hotel, Arenal Paraiso Resort & Spa.

That first morning, I walked into the lodge of a restaurant to find a breakfast soiree the likes of which I’d never seen. I piled my plate with sliced papaya and pineapple, picadillo (Latin American hash), scrambled eggs, seared plantains and alcapurrias (yuca fritters). I doused the scrambled eggs in two hot sauces: fiery red Lizano chilero, which reminds me of a more concentrated tabasco, and dull green Lizano salsa, which someone described as being “spicy but not hot,” and indeed imparts more layered flavor than heat.

That cassava was the breakfast highlight that I haven’t stopped thinking about since. The texture was that of a perfect-world tater tot, and you’re probably not supposed to do this, but I dipped mine in natilla (sour cream). French fries dipped in mayonnaise can take a back seat.

Breakfasts after that first morning were similar but with a few differing elements. The next morning I swapped the papaya for perfectly ripe honeydew melon and the yuca for what looked like a terrine of tamale: a thick round of corn dough on the outside with fatty sausage in the middle.

Although our hotel breakfasts after Arenal were less impressive, I retain my stance that Costa Ricans do breakfast the right way.

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-Mary Clay Kline