I am fresh off an excellent trip to Costa Rica with my husband. We celebrated our tenth year of marriage with many hours in a terrible BeGo SUV rental as we bumped along narrow weathered roads banked by gorgeous green hillsides, fields of banana trees and wild hibiscus. Our nights were steamy: in unair-conditioned jungle cabins and locally own, tico, bed and breakfasts. And each day we scarfed down the local fare, gallo pinto (a seasoned combination of black beans and rice served with the national condiment, salsa linzano), hungry from our adventures hiking through the rainforested paradise.
While we were only there a week, I ate beans and rice every single day. It seemed like a lot of beans and rice. It was a lot of beans and rice; and I love beans and I like rice, I’ve don’t eat them day in and day out. Even when I am eating a lot of beans at home, I am moving around in the legume family, never resting my affections on one variety alone. Not the case in Costa Rica. There was only one occasion I was served dark red kidney beans instead of the classic black beans. Rice and beans, beans and rice: any meal, every day. And while I savored each delicious preparations, and there were some excellent ones, it was a lot of repetition.
I confess that variety is a constant craving for me. At least with food. A friend once challenged me to make a list of all the meals I like and repeat. I gave up after the list was four pages long. I make new recipes several times a week, I am always making up new things, auditioning ones from cooking blogs, magazines and new cookbooks. As much as I like some recipes, I still don’t make them more than quarterly. I don’t do a lot of repetition. Yeah, I know that repetition can be a good thing for creating healthy habits, and simplicity, but it is just so well–regular.
I am certain my kids would welcome more of it. They never seem to tire of reading them same favorite books over and over and over until I hide them until I am ready to read them again and again, again. Life seems rife with it: monthly bills, weekly recycling pickup, daily showers, and twice daily commute to and from wherever you must go. With all life’s regularity, is it so odd I crave the most regular activity, eating, to the the one with variety?
While I’m grateful to have access to the ingredients that enables my addition, I feel bit sad for those who may not share it. On the plane ride home I sighed, not knowing when I would be dining Costa Rican style again, wishing I could have a thick pancake style corn tortilla with a side of tangy cultured crema and black beans at that very moment; I overheard another passenger. He was loudly whooping as our plane touched down on the U.S. airstrip, he couldn’t wait to go home and eat some real food. He confessed that he taken to asking for American style salad dressing and smothering the “nasty tico food” with it so he didn’t have to taste it. I groaned, disgusted by the thought of everything saturated with dressing, and wondered at this other brand of repetition. Then I was sad for him, isn’t variety the spice of life, even if it is just a brief interruption from your regular repetition, rather than merely everything a la ranch dressing. I hoping he doesn’t visit Asia any time soon, I can’t fathom the potential combinations he’d make there…
So while I enjoyed all the rice and beans, beans and rice at any meal and every day, and did for a the last seven days, I am delighted that at home I can have more options, perhaps even ranch dressing. But don’t count on me to make even that the same way every time (just a warning should you be coming for dinner here sometime soon).
Life variety or repetition, what sates you? Are you more adventureous or more prone to eat and repeat?