Eight Things You Must Eat When in Costa Rica – Part 2

The second part of our gastronomic journey through Costa Rica features even more great dishes from this exciting part of the world. In part one we sampled some great food and drink that is unique to the Central American country.

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.

Gallo Pinto

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.

Chifrijo

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 ice cold beer.

Granizados

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.     

Casado

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.

These are just 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.