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20 years

Nontraditional meats showing up on Tico plates


April 22nd, 2014 ( Meat varieties that have not traditionally been part of Costa Rican cuisine are slowly but surely gaining in popularity, especially lamb, buffalo and rabbit.


Producers believe that the low fat content and word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family are driving the trend.


Both Automercado and Walmart are selling lamb, buffalo and rabbit, and managers confirm that demand has been growing in recent years.


Buffalo has been raised in Costa Rica for several years, although some butchers sell it as beef, Alvaro Salas, president of the Association of Buffalo Breeders told La Nacion recently.


There are some 15,000 buffalo in Costa Rica across some 100 farms.  Producers slaughter about 4,000 heads of buffalo per year.


Meanwhile, there are about 50,000 lambs being raised in the country, both for the production of meat as well as dairy.


Antonio Lachner, president of Ganadera El Volcán S.A., said when his company began producing lamb a little over a decade ago, demand for the meat was so low his company sacrificed just five animals per week.  Now, the company sacrifices around 120 animals per week, he said.


Lachner said there is a worldwide shortage of lamb, and that his company has demand for export from as far away as Turkey, but does not currently have the production capacity for export.


Gary, a butcher at Uncle Earl’s Fine Meats in Jaco, told Inside Costa Rica that interest in nontraditional meats by their Costa Rican customers is growingly slowly but surely, primarily by word of mouth.  “Someone’s sister-in-law tells them to try it, and they like it,” he said.


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  • John Dungan

    Ganadera El Volcán S.A. is sacrificing lambs, huh? Do they use a stone altar, or is wood adequate for their needs do you suppose? (Sorry, but that just struck me as a curious choice of words).

    • Timothy Williams

      We try to adhere to the actual Spanish that is spoken when we translate a quote from someone who originally gave the quote in Spanish; which in that particular case translated to ‘sacrifice’ rather than slaughter (‘sacrifice’ is usually the term used, in fact). It is quite common here (“Nos sacrificamos 120 corderos al semana”).

      Of course, we always run a thin line in the way we translate quotes from Spanish to English; these are debates we have quite often internally (translation versus interpretation).

      • Andrew

        Thanks for the explanation, Tim. Helpful.

        • Timothy Williams

          No problem, Andrew. I’m glad that John Dungan actually brought up this issue, as it is one we are faced with daily.

          90% of interviews are conducted in Spanish, and we must decide between translation, interpretation, or a mix of the two.

          On a very basic level, for readers who are not aware of the difference, we can take a very simple example: Gallo pinto (the popular rice and beans dish here) would be *translated* as “spotted rooster” but of course we elect to *interpret*, rather than *translate* that phrase into “rice and beans.”

          That is a basic example, and the decision there is easy. However, when interviewing a business person, or a witness to a crime, amongst other scenarios, we constantly struggle with the “interpret or translate” issue. We usually end up doing a combination of the two – but at the end of the day our priority is always to do our best to express the *meaning* behind a person’s words as best as possible.

          Hope this makes sense, and puts quotes in future articles a bit more in context.

          Thank you for reading ICR.

          • Andrew

            Thanks for taking the time to respond Tim. But don’t you mean: “rice, beans, chile dulce, cebolla and the everpresent culantro?”

          • Timothy Williams

            Why, of course. We even have that as a ready-made cut-and-paste explanation when the term comes up :) (That isn’t a bad idea, in fact).

          • turbooperator

            don’t forget the comino and salsa Lizano

          • Ken Morris

            The problem with interpreting gallo pinto as “rice and beans” is that in fact “rice and beans” means that caribbean dish with coconut milk etc.–NOT gallo pinto.

            I puzzled over this for years until I finally asked my bar manager: Why is the special some days only rice and beans when the special every other day comes with rice and beans plus something else, and the prices are the same? That got a laugh at the stupid gringo and the explanation that “rice and beans” actually means the caribbean dish. Plus, they gave me a free plate of it and I must admit it’s tasty.

            Anyway, just joking and want to say that I appreciate your integrity as well as the difficulties you have in applying it. I suppose I would interpret rather than translate, though alert the reader that this is what I’m doing and maybe put the original Spanish in parentheses. It’s a tough issue though.

        • Timothy Williams

          Just FYI, another common expression for the slaughter of animals is “cosecha,” translated as “harvest (ex, we “harvest (cosecha) 5,000 chickens per week.”

          The English “slaughter” would most easily translate to the Spanish “matar/masacre/ matanzar/ etc.” (kill / masacre / etc.) which you’ll rarely hear amongst farmers and ranchers, who either “sacrificar (sacrifice)” or “cosechar (harvest)” their livestock.

  • Luis Diego Campos

    You guys are making me hungry for pinto con natilla.. hmmmmmm

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