Lets set the scene before I start with my tale of how I came to eat chicharrones for the first time. Way back in 2007 before the days of instagram, twitter, snapchat and influencers I lived in San Jose, Costa Rica for a bit. I was young and naive and not as forward thinking and adventurous as I am now and experiencing living far away from home for the first time. I didn’t have a fancy camera and I hardly ever thought of using the little one I had except for maybe a few selfies and cringy tourist type pics.
The memory of this day lives on ,though a bit faded but something I always love reminiscing about and my first push into experiencing a different culture.
I knew I wanted to travel a lot in my twenties and when Michael and I got the chance to move to Costa Rica for a couple of months we almost bolted out the door. In my head I was going to be lying on gorgeous white sand beaches everyday getting my tan on and loving life. The truth was very different to my little fairytale I created in my head and San Jose was far away from my beach destination. We lived in a fancy apartment block in Escazú but I was literally too scared to walk out the front door. We didn’t go see too many places but the one day Michael and his friends decided to go bungee jumping and I tagged along.
The bridge where everyone was jumping off looked rusted and I was way too scared to go so I sat on the side while everyone else had so much fun jumping down and its something I still regret so much. Anyway, after standing around for ages and getting super hungry everyone finished and went to a Cantina close by. You can see how much I regret it by the enthusiasm I exude (not) while telling you about this part.
From what I remember the Cantina was full and loud with a locals only vibe and had crocodiles hanging off the ceiling. It is the kind of place that you find off the beaten track and that I would probably appreciate now but didn’t back then. We sat down and ordered some beers and nachos and then my friend said we have to try the chicharrones. Obviously I had no clue what he was talking about but he said it was some kind of pork so I thought I would give it a go. The little bowl he offered me was full of delicious pieces of sticky fried pork and it wasn’t long before we ordered some for ourselves as well. More beers and yummy pork bits followed and it wasn’t long before I needed to go wee.
There was no way I was going to navigate to the bathroom myself so I dragged Michael along and together in a dark dirty corner we found a bubbling pot from which the chicharrones we just feasted on were born. A sweaty old guy was stirring it and the flies zoomed around creating a kind of a chilling chicharrones song. My eyes went wide and my wee was forgotten and all I could think about was WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST EAT!
Sometimes I think about the story of the chicharrones like this – what if I never saw the pot, it still tasted great so should it make a difference?
What do you think?