The Costa Rican food is a mixture of different cultural pre-Columbian and Hispanic influences. In addition to the tamales, the tortillas, corn, beans, potatoes, cassava and to the pumpkins, the Ticos have started to eat beef, lard, cocoa and sugar, eggs and milk products such as milk, sour cream and butter.
The core of today's Ticos meals are rice and beans, considered the basic elements of the diet along with corn. The combination of these two ingredients is considered important to prevent malnutrition (according to the latest data reported, almost 5% of children under five years is malnourished), because the mixture of cereals (rice) with a legume (bean) forms a high nutritional valueprotein similar to meat and eggs. So the most famous dishes in Costa Rica are the Gallo Pinto and Casado.
A huge variety of vegetables can be found all year round such as pumpkin, chayote, cassava, as well as tomatoes, peppers, beets, lentils and peas (mainly used for soups or as a side dish), and the thousands of kinds of famous fruit like pineapple or banana or less known as carambola, jocotes, passion fruit, dragon fruit, 'water apple', nance and zapote (used for jams, desserts or simple fruit salads)
The main type of meat consumed in this country is chicken (fried or grilled), followed by pork (chops, bacon, sausages and the famous chicharrones always accompanied by a national iced cold Imperial beer), and beef (stews or soups such as olla de carne). Another type of protein that is part of the daily allowance of Ticos diet are eggs (on average the Ticos eat more than 200 eggs per person per year!), fish and seafood. As the Costa Rica is bathed by two oceans there are so many different varieties of fish such as sea bass, tuna, red snapper and tilapia as freshwater fish (usually grilled or breaded and fried) and varieties of fruits sea as, lobster, oysters, shrimp and mussels (used in many of mixed fish dishes or to give a different flavor to the famous Ceviche).
For sweet lovers, you cannot miss the sweetness of an arroz con leche, homemade baked tamal, a tres leches cake, or a simple cocada, a banana cake or coconut cajeta accompanied by a good cup of brewed American style coffee.
In addition to the local food, almost all over the country there are restaurants and large supermarket that sell food or products imported from all around the world. The easier to find are the Italian food and Chinese food, followed by the American (meaning hamburger and fries) and the Japanese food. Clearly, products such as cold meats, cheeses, sauces or imported fine meat cuts, are usually quite more expensive.
Here you have some of the most typical dishes recipies.
Chopped white onion
Chopped sweet pepper
Lizano sauce (natural made sauce with vegetables and spices produced in Costa Rica)
Pre-cooked white rice (better from the day before)
Black beans with their broth
Brown in a little vegetable oil the chopped white onions and sweet peppers. Add the black beans (previously cooked in a pressure cooker) with enough broth of the same. Stir and heat well. Add salt and Lizano sauce to taste. Add the chopped fresh coriander and white pre-cooked rice. Mix well.
Serve with a fresh sour cream spoon, and garnish with fried egg, sausage, fried ripe plantains, cheese and tortillas.
White onion and red onion
Tilapia fish or Sea Bass
Dice the pepper, the two types of onions and the fish. Finely chop the fresh coriander. Mix everything in a bowl with salt, a little orange juice, ginger ale and a lot of lemon juice. Marinate the fish for an hour in the refrigerator. Serve with patacones (fried green plantains) or fried cassava.
PORK TAMAL (typical Christmas recipe)
Masa (corn flour)
Achiote (a typical condiment from South America, derived from a plant)
Cook the pork in pressure cooker with herbs and salt. Set aside the broth. Shred the meat. Cook the masa until thickened with meat broth, water, and salt to taste. Cook the rice and mix it with achiote. Cut into strips the carrots, the peppers and the peeled potatoes.
Build the tamales as follows: put on a table 2 of the plantains leaves cut into big squares one above the other. Place in the center of the leaf 3 tablespoons of the cooked Masa and allowed to cool, with over a spoonful of rice, with over a small piece of carrot, a piece of potato and a piece of pepper and top with a spoonful of shredded pork. Close the plantain leaves forming a kind ofrectangular 'packet'. Firmly tie with kitchen string two tamales together. Boil in water for 45 minutes. Serve warm with a cup of coffee.
CHICHARRONES (FRIED PORK SKIN)
Pork (from the belly with the skin and 1 cm of the pork own fat)
Lard for frying (fat from the same pork)
Salt and pepper
Cut the belly of the pork (with the skin and 1 cm of the pork own fat) in pieces more or less the size of a golf ball. Fry in the lard/fat from the same pork for about 45 minutes. When they are ready, drain well and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fried cassava, lemon and pico de gallo / chimichurri (diced tomatoes and onions with fresh coriander and lemon juice).
Meringue and fruit for garnish (optional)
Beat eggs to a frothy consistency, then add the sugar gradually, stirring constantly. Add to the mix the flour previously sifted with baking powder and vanilla extract. Grease and flour a baking pan and pour the mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool.
Separately, mix the three types of milk with an electric mixer. With the milk mixture, sprayed on the cold sponge cake in the same mold in which was overcooked. Let the sponge cake soak with milk mixture for at least one hour before serving. You can decorate with meringue and fresh fruit (strawberries or raspberriesare recommended).
White chopped onion
Salt and pepper
Cook the white chayote (cut in half) till tender. Drain and dig out the pulp with a spoon. Continue cooking the pulp in a pan with the chopped white onion, a little minced garlic, salt and pepper. When the filling is cold, mix it with a little of sour cream. Fill the half of chayote with half boiled egg and the filling cooked before. Cover with mozzarella. Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and golden.