Travelling will never be complete without dining. And what better way to dine during your trip than to eat just like the locals! Costa Rican food may not have dominated the international culinary scene (yet) but they have their own distinct personality. Having traditional cuisine during your stay adds some flavour to your Costa Rican adventure.
Italians have their pasta, Americans have their hamburgers, Costa Ricans have their rice and black beans. A staple in every meal, a big part of traditional cuisine. What seems to be a carb overload among foreigners, the rice and black beans combination fuels the daily lives of the people. Costa Ricans’ traditional lifestyle includes working in the fields and walking for miles each day; these foods fuel their physical activities. Modernity has provided certain comforts to their daily routines but a little has changed when it comes to their food.
Gallo pinto is Costa Rican breakfast of mixed rice, black beans with spices like onions and bell pepper. It becomes casado for lunch or dinner. Meat like chicken or beef sided with fried plantains, vegetables like carrots and a cabbage salad makes for an amazing meal!
Roasted pork is another staple part of Costa Rican cuisine. Chicken is also eaten; arroz (which means “rice”) is a rice meal with pollo (chicken) or shrimp. Beef is common in soup or roasted. A must is the savoury olla de carne, a beef stew with vegetables like carrots, potatoes and chayote (vegetable pear). Seafood dishes can be enjoyed especially along the coastal areas of Costa Rica. Shrimp and lobster is widely eaten along with white-meat fish like sea bass, mahi-mahi and swordfish. Fish is commonly grilled or pan-fried, ceviche is raw fish drenched in lemon or lime, vinegar and spices and is a common appetiser in Costa Rica.
Costa Rican food will never be complete without acknowledging the Caribbean part of its local cuisine. Brought by Jamaican immigrants, the Caribbean touch to local food is marked with the use of coconut and spices like ginger and curry. Ginger and curry is relatively absent in traditional Costa Rican cuisine. Coconut milk is used as a creamer to some dishes, and grated coconut for desserts. These food can be enjoyed in the Caribbean part of the country but there are also some restaurants throughout Costa Rica that include these dishes in their menu.
Food choices for in between meals in Costa Rica shows similarities to neighbouring countries and to the Latin culture. Tamale, tacos, empanadas and the basic fried plantain are favourite snacks among the locals.