Welcome to Costa Rica! It’s an absolutely gorgeous country in Central America, bordered by the Pacific Ocean on its west side, the Caribbean Sea to the east, Nicaragua to the north, and Panama to the southeast. It has one of the richest varieties of flora and fauna in the world, some absolutely amazing national parks, and is the “greenest and happiest” country in the world (according to the New Economics Foundation).
Add delicious food onto that already impressive list, and you’ve got one heck of a country! Costa Rican cuisine is simple and fresh, and heavily based on the abundance of fruits and vegetables that are available (such as passionfruits, papaya, pineapple, bananas, cabbage, heart of palm, and cassava). Despite the extensive coastline, Costa Rican seafood is quite expensive, as it exports most of it.
The country also has the Spanish and Caribbean influence that its neighboring countries have, but is a little less focused on spices and more on the fresh fruits and veggies. The national dish is Casado, a plate with rice, beans, plantains, a tortilla, salad, and chicken, pork, or beef. Gallo pinto (good old rice and beans!) is one of the most common traditional dishes of Costa Rica, as it is in Nicaragua.
Aside from gallo pinto, some popular Costa Rican dishes include: tamales, olla de carne (beef stew), salad (typically cabbage and tomato salad), gallos de salchichon (tortillas with fried sausage, cheese, and pico de gallo), arreglados (meat stuffed sandwiches or puffed pastry), and rondon (seafood and vegetable stew).
Along the northeast side of Costa Rica, there is a much stronger Caribbean influence in the cuisine. The food is spicier, more seafood is used, and coconut is a very common ingredient.
So, what’s your favourite Costa Rican dish? Do you prefer the milder, traditional Costa Rican food, or the spicier dishes found along the Caribbean side of the country?
Stay tuned, on Wednesday we’ll be featuring an authentic, simple, oh so delicious Costa Rican dish.