|Dining and food in Costa Rica
Costa Rican cuisine is simple but heavy on
oil and some species. Comida tipica or native
dishes, rely heavily on rice and beans, the
basis of many Costa Rican meals. Home-style
cooking predominates. But meals are generally
wholesome and reasonably priced. Gallo Pinto,
the national dish of fried rice and black
beans is particularly served as a breakfast.
Notable is the famed Rice n' Beans of the
Caribbean, a Gallo Pinto made in coconut
milk, worth trying. Many meals are derivatives,
including arroz con pollo or arroz con atun.
At lunch Gallo Pinto becomes Casado : rice
and beans supplemented with cabbage and tomato
salad, fried platains, and meat. Vegetables
do not form a large part of the diet. Costa
Rica home cuisine has an inordinately ammount
of fried foods so keep that in mind when
you receive and invitation for dinner.
Food staples include beef, chicken, fish
and despite of the 1.000+ kilometers of coastline,
seafood like shrimp or lobster, is expensive
because Costa Rica exports most of its seafood.
Travelers with low budget should stick with
the casado on lunch time menus, or 'plato
del dia' which is a close cousin of the casado
with a common denominator of low price and
Eating in Costa Rica doesn't present the
health problems that plague the unwary traveler
elsewhere in Central America, but you need
to be aware that some of the pesticides used
in Costa Rica are forbidden elsewhere. Something
I should say is that you may eat where the
locals eat, usually that means tasty and
trustworthy food. Beware of black beans and
chicharrones, which might prove to be too
much for some foreign stomachs.
Costa Rica has no national drink, but very
popular in the cultural tradition of drinks
are Horchata, a cinnamon flavored cornmeal
drink, Chan, a slimy drink made of seeds,
Linaza, which is popularly used to cure indigestion,
and Fresco de Frutas, which is basically
a fruit salad floating on a base of kola
and water, delicious!! And, of course, guaro,
the campesino’s nearly-tasteless yet potent
alcoholic drink of choice. And coffee of
course, Costa Rica’s grain of gold. Most
of the best coffee is exported, so don't
expect the best coffee everywhere you go.
Coffee is traditionally served very strong
and mixed with hot milk.
Many bars in Costa Rica have the now disappearing
habit of serving bocas with each drink ,
bocas are different types of food in small
amounts, usually ceviche or chicken wings
or bean soup, to have a better time with
your drinks. Some bars provide them free
but others may apply a small charge. Turtle
eggs which may have been taken in a special
legal season are a very popular dish in many
bars for its special taste, but are best
avoided because of the possibility of having
been poached illegally.
Imported drinks may be expensive so you might
be better of trying with the local Costa
Rican drinks. The beer is a very popular
drink and the ones of most sale are Bavaria
and Imperial. Even the poorest campesino
can afford the native red-eye, guaro, a harsh
, clear spirit distilled from fermented sugarcane.
In rural areas you might find Vino de Coyol,
which is a wine distilled from liquid that
is collected on holes on the trunk of a very
spiny palm, drink with caution, intoxication
goes away, but many say if you go out in
the sun with a Coyol hangover, you might
find yourself drunk again.
Avoid the local wines, all of which are made
from fruits other than grapes, such as blackberries
and 'nance'. The most memorable thing of
them is the hangover. Imported wines are
expensive with exemption of the ones from
Chile or Argentina which are of great quality.
We personally like the Cousino Macul, imported
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