Thursday, March 03, 2005

Food and drink in Costa Rica

Food display at Barcelo Hotel in Playa Tambor, Costa Ricaby Infocostarica Staff

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.

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 varied ingredients.

Eating in Costa Rica doesn't present the health problems that plague the unwary traveler elsewhere in Central America so you may eat where the locals eat because that usually means tasty and trustworthy food.

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 (fruit punch), which is deliciuos.

And last but not least coffee, Costa Rica’s golden grain. 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.

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