Given the title of this blog, I’m guessing you can already tell that I love to eat. It might be my favorite pastime. I think it’s a great way to experience new cultures and find out what’s local and how it’s used. Also, I like all things delicious. For a glutton like myself, Costa Rica is PARADISE. Yes, I put that in all caps and boldface!! I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as well as I did in Costa Rica.
One of the most popular plates in Costa Rica is called a casado which literally means “married” in Spanish. This is because the plate is a combination of everything, typically rice, beans, meat (think fried fish or steak in sauce), fried plantains (read: OMG GOOD) and served with a glass of fresh juice! Those foods are just the bare minimum of what will be in the plate. In the one below, it even had macaroni and cheese which I thought was odd but whatever, I ate it.
The most recognizable dish in Costa Rica would have to be gallo pinto or “painted rooster” and no, it is not at all made with rooster. It’s actually a combination of rice and black beans. Preferably, rice that has been cooked the day before and allowed to sit in the refrigerator overnight. It’s mixed together with tomatoes, cilantro and onion for a mix that is a staple for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On our group’s first day in Costa Rica we were told that the saying goes ” in Costa Rice, if you’re not eating beans and rice, you’re eating rice and beans.” It is the absolute given truth! No complaints here, it’s a very filling and delicious dish.
Since Costa Rica is obviously a tropical climate, it’s borderline obscene how easy it is to get fresh fruit and vegetables so easily. There’s plenty of farmer’s and open air markets to choose your goodies. About 2 blocks away from our school we had a farmer’s market that was open every Friday and it was like Christmas to go in there and oogle over all the fruit. Strawberries, pineapple, guanabana, guava, watermelon, maricuya, kiwi, and coconut are just a mere sample of the bounties available.
Since so many of the ticos y ticas in Costa Rica walk everywhere, you need plenty of energy to meet your day. Meals are loaded with carbs and I’m not kidding when I say you have rice with everything. My host mother served spaghetti for dinner one night and brought out a huge heaping bowl of rice to go with it. She held it up to me and asked if I wanted some to go with my spaghetti. Ok, thanks. You would never see that kind of combination in the States but everyone else at the table did it so I did too.
ICE CREAM. Who doesn’t love it??!! I never get tired of eating ice cream year round even though I know it’s terrible for my diet. Whatevs. When in Costa Rica, you absolutely have to go to POPS. They have about a jillion flavors to choose from, ok maybe a little less than that but still, the variety is magical. Of course you can pick from the usual flavors like vanilla, chocolate, caramel, brownie, chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies n cream, strawberry, etc. Or….you can surprise your taste buds and get something a little more unusual like coconut, pineapple, kiwi, guanabana, or cactus flower….Yes…cactus flower.
DESAYUNO. I understand that this post is pretty much all over the place and has no order but that’s okay with me. Sure, I mentioned ice cream before breakfast but like a wise, fat cat once said “Life’s short, eat dessert first.” Moving on to breakfast…did I mention how much you will eat rice and beans in Costa Rica? I did? ok, well you’ll eat it for breakfast as well. There’s some variety thrown in like eggs, pancakes, coffee, tortillas, ham, etc. I have yet to eat a breakfast in the states as delicious as the ones my host mother would make for me every morning. It typically had last night’s gallo pinto, two little scrambled egg patties with tomatoes and onion, coffee, tortillas and fresh strawberries (or pineapple!) on the side. Absolute heaven on a plate. Fills you up but won’t weigh you down for the day ahead.
Costa Rica, without a doubt, has the best food I’ve ever eaten in my whole life! Hopefully I’ll get a chance to go back and gorge myself on the deliciousness in the near future.
What are your favorite foods you’ve eaten while abroad? What country could you go back to just for the food if you could?