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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In part two we continue our gastronomic tour of Costa Rica to see what other dishes appear on our must-eat list. We sample the delights of Gallo Pinto, Chifrijo, and Granizados along with other exciting edible treats.