Whenever you visit a new place that you have never been before a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture is to try new and exotic dishes. Every country, city, and town has their own individual dishes that celebrate local ingredients and are prepared in a particular manner. Costa Rica is no different, it has a wide selection of amazing ingredients to choose from and the local cooks and chefs create innovative dishes that make up the cuisine of this most wonderful country. Costa Rica also draws many influences from other countries in its cuisine, from those that are neighboring states or the countries that previously colonized Cota Rica. Because of its geographical position and its cultural history there are many outside influences that contribute to the cuisine of Costa Rica which explains the incredible variety and diverseness of the food. Listed below are some of the amazing dishes that form part of the cuisine of Costa Rica. There are also many local variations and regional dishes that add extra variety to the national cuisine of this exciting Central American country.
Not every place in the world has amazing tropical ingredients and the people of Costa Rica are most fortunate to have a wide selection of things to eat. One such ingredient is the cacao, the large yellow pods that encase the beans have a delicate fleshy part inside them. The fruit is utterly delicious, it is both sweet and tangy and not remotely like chocolate at all. There are several places in Costa Rica that grow cacao and it is an important part of the economy as the product gets exported all over the world.
Casado translates into married, and the dish is called this because it brings together certain ingredients that complement each other perfectly. The crux of this dish is the white rice and black beans, this is the marriage. The Casado then will traditionally contain a vegetable and a protein to complete the dish. The vegetable could be almost anything, but local cabbage is common. For the protein it could be a pork chop or a piece of fish and anything in between. The protein normally dictates a specialty dish of a particular restaurant or town. Because the dish is made up of individually cooked ingredients the whole thing is normally smothered in fried onions and a spicy salsa to bring the individual components together as a complete dish.
Many places have tried to claim that they were the first people to make Chifrijo but most of the evidence seems to point to San Jose as the birthplace of this particular dish. It is a highly popular dish consisting of rice, pork, black beans and a piquant tomato salsa. The dish is traditionally served with tortilla chips so that the diner can scoop up the mixture with a crispy chip and devour it in one bite. Chifrijo is a highly popular snack in bars and goes great with an ice cold beer.
GALLO PINTO (SPECKLED ROOSTER)
Many Caribbean and South American countries have their own versions of rice & beans and Gallo Pinto is Costa Rica’s. The origins of this particular version seem to hail back to the remote town of San Sebastian, when a local spotted hen was highly fancied by the townspeople for a sumptuous dinner. The owner of the hen fooled the townsfolk by cooking white rice and ladling in copious amounts of black beans to replicate the spotted hen. Of course this is just folklore but stories such as this are a part of regional cuisine.
Typically Costa Rican this refreshing treat is ideal on a hot summers day when you need to cool down. All over Costa Rica you can see small handcarts being pushed along the street with the vendors calling out to everybody Granizados! It is a particular favorite with kids as it is a local version of a lolly-ice. The cart owner has a large block of ice which he shaves shards from and then covers the ice with condensed milk, then any flavored syrup is smothered over the top. Classic syrups that are sold with the Granizados are mango, cherry, and grape.
Naturales can be found all over Costa Rica and are delicious drinks made from fresh tropical fruits. The best places that make these refreshing and healthy drinks are the little standalone kiosks that often have one or two stools at the front so you can enjoy a rest while consuming your freshly juiced Naturales or as they are sometimes called Refresos. The choice of fruit is usually what is in season and can include sour green mango, melon, mango, banana, and milk with cinnamon and rice.
This dish is highly influenced by Mexican cuisine and is normally sold at roadside stalls and small diners. Typically Picadillo is eaten as a side dish but can easily be eaten on its own. Basically it is diced vegetables that are fried with garlic, onions, carrots and a little minced meat.
This spicy coconut soup that emanated from the Caribbean is different in every place you eat it, in fact the only constant about Rondon is that it is always different. Basically it is a fish soup that can be made from any fish and any fish parts. Indeed it is quite common to see a fish head glaring back at you from your bowl. Different cooks then throw in assorted tubers, which can include yucca and sweet potato. The broth part of the soup is always the same and is coconut milk, and Rondon is usually then simmered for hours over a wood burning fire. The spice comes from local chilies that bring the soup to life on the tongue.