Food. Costa Rica
has several options of food, many of them are native, and others are very similar to those of neighboring countries. Costa Rican dishes are not highly seasoned, and are made basically of rice, black beans, vegetables, beef, chicken and fish, and are usually served with corn tortillas.
There are a variety of options given to visitors, but “typical foods” are the ones given preference.
The characteristic breakfast is the “gallo pinto” (pinto rooster) that consists of rice and black or red beans mixed, seasoned with onions, red pepper, cilantro and spices. Usually it is served with eggs (scrambled or fried), natilla (similar to sour cream), and of course bread. Some people like to include fried ripe plantain.
Rice is used with all the traditional dishes and also it is mixed with several ingredients during the preparation of the Costa Rican food recipes.
For example: the “arroz con pollo” (rice with chicken), is very popular and it is frequently found as a main course in parties and in several homes for weekends.
This dish is so typical of this country, that international chains have incorporated it into the menus that they offer every morning.
For lunch Costa Ricans offer the “casado, a typical dish made of chicken in sauce, next to rice, black or red beans, fried ripe plantain, salad, and mashed potatoes. Sometimes eggs and avocados are added.
This food is practically a requirement in the diet of Costa Ricans, and it is very acceptable by tourists, because they consider it very tasty and nutritive, and it can be found around the country in every kind of restaurant, and the cost is very reasonable.
Tamales are made of seasoned corn meal (sometimes mixed with mashed potatoes), inside they have rice, green beans, carrots, and meat. Some people add also garbanzos (chickpeas), plums and olives. The tamale is covered with plantains leaves and cooked by boiling cook it.
In the community of Aserri, called after an indigenous chief, there is a factory that makes hundreds of tamales to supply the needs of the local market; however in all the country and in almost every Costa Rican home, they are prepared for Christmas, as they are considered as a characteristic food for this season, even though they can be found year round.
Other traditional foods:
Other dishes that are considered very traditional since long time ago, is the “olla de carne”, a soup made of vegetables like chayote (a type of squash), yucca, potatoes, and other veggies, with the main item being cubed meat and bones.
The “mondongo” soup (cow belly), the “albondigas soup (meat balls made with corn flower and eggs), picadillos (diced with chayote, green plantain and others) are part of the Costa Rican menu, and are very popular with visitors. Also, the guisos , refried beans, chicharron of pork, and the embutidos , that are offered usually with corn tortillas or folded in them as a taco.
Costa Rica is a country with coasts in the two biggest oceans of the world. The Atlantic on the East and the Pacific on the West. That’s why it has such a large variety of species of fish and sea food, that are distributed around the nation to satisfy all the gastronomic needs, both locals and tourists.
There is a big demand for “ceviche” (fish or/and sea food cooked in lime). Mixed with very fine chopped onion and red pepper, and it is served especially with fried green plantain.
Some provincias (provinces or states) have their own typical recipes. That is the case of Limon, the main port of Costa Rica, located on the Atlantic coast. In this city, visitors can enjoy the “rice and beans” (cooked with coconut milk), the ‘pan bon” (bread), the ron don (vegetable with fish and coconut milk), or the “patie” (mini pie filled with hot (spicy) meat.
The options in this field have a large variety.
- Arroz con leche (Rice with milk): Rice cooked in milk with sugar, cinnamon, cloves, condensed milk and raisins. Some people add little pieces of lime peel.
- Biscochos: baked corn meal mixed with cheese, natilla and salt.
- Tamal Asado: ground corn, mixed with cheese, sugar and natilla. Typically fried and then roasted in a wood fired oven.
- Ensalada de frutas (fruit salad). Several fruits very finely diced, optionally mixed with sweet flavored syrup. Served as is, or with ice cream and jello.
- Miel de Chiverre: Chiverre is a kind of pumpkin that has a lot of fiber. It is cooked, then seeds are taken out, and then the pulp is macerated, water is extracted, and the pulp is prepared with a syrup made from sugar cane. Everything is cooked until caramelized. Even though it is possible to find it year round, this dessert is traditionally served around Easter Holy Week (March or April).
Beside the natural attraction of this country, the visitor can enjoy a huge gastronomical sample. At his disposition there are hundreds of fruits and vegetables they even can get (as part of their cultural experience too) in the “ferias del agricultor” (the farmers markets) that are held on weekends as opened markets in different communities, where the farmers sell directly to the consumer, so the products are less expensive than in the supermarkets.
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