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First time to the tropics and not sure what food to expect? We’ve put together some tips to help discover the delight of traditional Costa Rican food.
Fruit & vegetables
Costa Rica has a wide variety of fruits and vegetables which make for a healthy and rounded diet. Depending on the season, you can find mangoes, pineapples, watermelons, melons, guanabana (soursop), guava and passion fruit so you won’t be short of fresh fruit to eat. Do as the Ticos (the local term for a Costa Rican) do and indulge yourself with fresh fruit juice to boost your lunch or breakfast, and invigorate yourself before you go on your next tropical adventure.
Rice & beans
The national staple food of Costa Rica is rice and beans. This dish is entwined with the country’s history. The majority of the population worked in the fields and needed something healthy and hearty to power them through the hard farm work. The combination of rice and beans is packed with carbohydrates and protein and is still the main filler for most meals, being that it’s more affordable than eating meat.
The two ingredients come together to form separate dishes depending on the time of day. For breakfast, it’s called “Gallo Pinto” and is mostly served with scrambled eggs, meat, sour cream or bread. For lunch, it is called “Casado” (Casado literally translated as “married”, as rice and beans are inseparable) and is served with vegetables, meat (beef, chicken or fish), corn tortilla and salad. The Caribbean variation, “rice n’ beans”, is prepared with coconut milk and chilli, giving it a twist on the Costa Rican version.
Traditional food bar
If you’re up for an appetiser (known as “Bocas”) with a chilled beer, “Patacones” are a fantastic bar snack, made from fried green plantains combined with mashed black beans.
If you like pork, you’ll love “Chicharrones”, tender pieces of fried pork meat, often served with beans, tomatoes, lemon and fried tortillas. They’ll leave your mouth tingling (and keep you begging for more!). “Ceviche” is another traditional dish, made from raw fish marinated in spices and lemon, and often served up in bars or restaurants before the main course.
With Costa Rican soul food becoming increasingly popular here in the UK, thanks to its fresh ingredients and simplicity, why not head to the source and create some memories while you’re there?