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Published Friday, May 21, 2021

By Melissa Pette

When I came to Costa Rica for the first time, many moons ago, I wondered why Costa Ricans are called "Ticos".

My Spanish teacher, Gloria Umaña, gave me an explanation for this enigma.

She said that in the times of the Spanish conquest, beginning in the 16th century, Costa Rica had very few inhabitants living in remote towns. The humble Costa Ricans of those times, referred to everything as if it were something scarce, in short supply or small. 

Confused? Let me explain what was explained to me.

So, here are some examples: when they talked about something little instead of saying "pequeño" (small in English) they said "pequeñi-tico" (which means tiny). Another one, when they referred to a poor person, instead of saying "pobre" they said "pobreci-tico" (which means extremely poor).

The expression of that period was to add the term "tico" to many of the qualifying adjectives. Now I sound like my teacher.

From the right word "pequeño" they said "pequeñi-tico", from "pobre" they said "pobreci-tico." That peculiar way of speaking, made Costa Ricans recognized as the "Ticos." Ta-daaaa!

All that long tale was to introduce today's recipe, the sweet Panciticos fries that are traditional snacks, usually served at countryside family reunions.

Gloria, as always very kind, like most of the Ticos, gave a hand with the recipe.

So let's go to the kitchen!

So-good Panciticos fries

The recipe is made with few ingredients for serving 15 pieces.

» 2 cups of all-purpose flour.

» 1/4 cup of wheat semolina or almond flour for gluten-free baking.

» a pinch of baking soda.

» 1/2 tsp of salt.

» 1 cup of white sugar.

» 1 egg.

» 2 tbsp of melted butter.

» 1/2 cup of diced mozzarella cheese (this is optional).

» Water.

» Cooking oil for frying.

First, in a blender, add half sugar and grind it to a fine powder. Then add 1 egg and grind it again to a smooth batter.

In a bowl, add the flour, wheat semolina (or almond flour), baking soda, salt, butter and the rest of the sugar. Mix all ingredients well.

Then, add water just a little at a time and make it into a soft sticky dough, add the cheese and mix.

Set to the side for a minimum of 15 minutes.

Heat some oil in a pan on medium heat. Apply some butter in your hands and make small balls out of the batter. Don't press it too hard.

Drop the balls in the pan and cook on medium heat.

A tip. If the oil is too hot, the outside will get browned and the inside will stay doughy. So fry them in low to medium heat.

Our so-good Panciticos fries are ready to be served with hot tea... or coffee.... or beer.... or wine.... or guaro. Let’s be creative.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I would like to thank the readers for their kind messages. You are invited to share your recipes with a horizontal photo of the dish by emailing More delightful recipes can be found on the AM Costa Rica Food page.

Pura Vida and Salud!

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