The first time I went grocery shopping here I was surprised to find the eggs neatly stacked on shelves in an ordinary isle in the store. Completely unrefrigerated and almost naked without their tidy styrofoam cartons keeping them ordered by twelves. I had never seen eggs in sets of fifteen before, but that was unimportant. What mattered was that I was quite certain that eggs should be refrigerated! Right?
Well, as it turns out, the answer is “No”. It’s true that eggs stay fresh longer when refrigerated, but eggs can stay on the kitchen counter until they are used. In fact, most countries do not cool eggs for transport or storage before the point of sale. Okay, my point is that everybody lives with a bit of misinformation. We all do things, often without question, that we learned as children. Eat chicken soup for a cold, put butter on a burn, maybe avoid walking under a ladder. Superstitions can be powerful – even when they’re totally stupid. With that said, here are a couple of my favorites from Costa Rica:
> Going out in the cold when your body is warm will cause injury or illness.
We have a friend here that believes whole heartedly that he hurt his shoulder by doing this (even though he had been using a chainsaw the day before, he insisted that it was because of the warm body/cold air thingy), and another who is convinced that her ongoing stomach problems are the result of working in a hot kitchen and then walking in the cool night air.
> Taking a hot shower makes you age faster.
For real? I don’t even get this one at all.
> If you are sick, you need sunshine.
When I had pneumonia, I heard this often. I did make it to the beach once during that time, much to the dismay of my doctor who noticed my freshly tanned skin and reminded me that he had prescribed rest, not surfing.
> Coconut milk cures….well….everything.
Stomach ache, head ache, urinary tract infection? No problem! We’ll just hack the top off this green coconut, jam a straw in it, and as soon as you’re done sucking down the nauseatingly sweet liquid you’ll be back on track!
When I get home from the store, I still put the eggs in the fridge. Mostly to save counter space, but partly because there is a sense of peace that comes with doing things the way I always have, the way my Mom did. I think it helps me feel at home here. I remember once, years ago, when one of my boys got stung by a bee, I made a paste of baking soda and water, assuring him that it would help, but knowing full well that it was a placebo. The look on his face told a different story though, one of relief and reassurance. Clearly he felt better, whether or not the funny paste actually did anything.
I wonder what the Tico’s think as they dart into my house to escape the cold air after a long hot day of curing the sniffles by drinking from a coconut in the sun. When they notice that my eggs are in the fridge, do they think I’m stupid for buying into such sillyness?