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Traditional Cuisine

Costa Rica offers some delectable tradition, or “typico” food. The main basis around its native dishes, are the ingredients. The locals do a great job of combining the local flavors, to make a delicious menu.

 

Breakfast, or “desayuno” is similar to the dishes served in the U.S with a few Costa Rican changes. Eggs, bacon and sausage are found almost everywhere. In addition to this, gallo pinto, which is fried rice and beans served with the Lizano sauce, is a popular item. Often a tortilla is used to eat the rice and beans. Keep in mind, it is not unusual to eat simply a bowl of cereal or fruit salad to start the day

 

Lunch and dinner are very similar. The main ingredients consist of rice, beans, chicken, fish/seafood, beef or pork. Arroz con pollo, rice with chicken, is very popular. It is a simple dish with each chef having a slightly different approach to cooking it. Another popular dish is the Casado (which means “married”). This dish is typically served with a meat item, salad, rice and beans, and sometimes fried plantains or yucca. Soups are not out of the ordinary either.  For example, "Olla de carne" is a stew made with beef, potatoes, carrots, chayote (vegetable pear), plantains and yucca and is often eaten with rice and tortillas. Another traditional soup is sweet corn soup and "sopa negra" which is made from black beans.

 

Fruits found in Costa Rica include many tropical types, such as watermelon, mango, pineapple, passion fruit, blackberries, cantaloupe, bananas, guava, guyanabana, lemons, and of course, avocados or its relative, the zapote. One very popular snack for Tico's, is the plantain. Plantains are similar to bananas, but shouldn't be eaten raw. Often served as a snack or with other dishes, the plantain is fried, making it a sweeter delicacy. It is also fried crispy to make it like a potato chip or dehydrated banana.

Coconuts are of course very popular along the coast. Tico's not only eat the ripe coconut but also drink the milk. Similar to the coconut is the pejibaye. The insides are similar to a pumpkin with fibrous, thick consistency.

Starfruit is another common fruit found in Costa Rica, because it is very sweet and juicy. It is a yellow, greenish fruit that gets its name by the way it looks when sliced. If sliced horizontally, the slices make a star. Similar to a pear is the manzana de agua. Slightly smaller and red in color, they do look a little different than its big brother.

Cashews are a popular nut that come from the maranon fruit. This fruit is very good but avoid the skin. Cashews must be roasted before they are consumed; a raw cashew is poisonous.

For some, dinner is simply a step that is the precursor to dessert. Tico's enjoy dessert and have a few original recipes. The most famous of which, and possibly most enjoyed by Tico's, is Tres Leches. True to its name, this dessert consists of three types of milk. Regular milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk are all marinated into a cake, and then whipped cream is added on top. Locals also eat regular cake, and ice cream can be found as well.

 

One must not forget the Caribbean coast, which certainly has its own unique cuisine, making it distinctive from the rest of the nation. As with many other Caribbean destinations, the dishes have a Jamaican influence with spices, curries and other ingredients. Coconut is again a main ingredient. A large banana industry is in this part of the country, so bananas and plantains are used in many recipes.

 

Costa Rica also has some popular drinks. Coffee is probably the most consumed and the most obvious Costa Rican beverage. Coffee drinkers are in heaven when tasting all of the incredible blends from beans grown in Costa Rica. As mentioned before, coconut milk is quite popular. Also, mixed fruit drinks are found almost anywhere. Guaro is also found in almost any place in Costa Rica. This liquor is very strong and nearly tasteless. One may find the Tico's wobbling about drunk from guaro. Some even say, if enough is consumed, guaro will make people hallucinate.

 

Costa Rican food uses many similar ingredients also used in Central, South, and even North American countries. However, the locals have definitely created a unique menu that combines many of the food groups to create a delicious selection of prepared foods.

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