Monday Top 5: Costa Rican Foods

This week we’re tackling everybody’s favorite topic: Food! Costa Rica has too many delicious dishes for us to describe all of them, so we chose our top 5. We guarantee that these dishes will make you want to fly to Costa Rica to enjoy some authentic cuisine for yourself…or maybe jut call in for carry-out.

1. Gallo Pinto: Costa Rica’s main dish is gallo pinto. Gallo pinto basically consists of a mix of rice and beans. Depending on who is making it, they may choose to add cilantro, onions, or peppers. Gallo pinto was originally considered a peasant’s dish of leftovers, but has quickly become the country’s favorite breakfast dish, although it can be eaten at any meal. It is often served with eggs, fruit, plantains, and sometimes meat or cheese.  If you’re staying on campus (or anywhere else in the country for that matter), you will likely enjoy this tasty dish nearly every day!

2. Casado: If gallo pinto is the typical breakfast dish in Costa Rica, casados are the main lunch plate. A casado can be found at almost any small restaurant in the country. A casado is not really one kind of food, but moreso a collection of foods. It generally consists of a type of meat (chicken, steak, pork chop, or fish) with sides of rice, beans, salad, cooked vegetables, and often fried plantains. Make sure you try this scrumptious meal at least once while you’re in Costa Rica.

Bonus- it is usually one of the less expensive items on the menu and the one with the most food!

3. Ceviche: Ceviche is a very popular dish, especially near the coastline. In Costa Rica, ceviche is prepared with fish or seafood, usually tilapia if you’re inland, but on the beach it can be made with shrimp, oyster, octopus, or clams. The fish or seafood is cut into small pieces and marinated in lime juice with cilantro, diced onions, garlic, and salt and pepper for seasoning. Ceviche is cooked without heat (the lemon or lime juice does all the work) and like sushi, must be made fresh to minimize the risk of food poisoning. Ceviche can be served as an appetizer, snack or even a main dish.

4. Plantains: Plantains are a major staple in Costa Rican meals, and are often served as a side dish with gallo pinto and casados. Plantains have a similar look as bananas, but are generally larger and are eaten cooked instead of raw. There are two main ways that plantains are cooked in Costa Rica: maduros (sweet plantains) and patacones (green plantains). To make maduros the plantains are cut and cooked in oil and butter. They are sometimes stuffed with cheese for extra tastiness. Patacones are twice fried and made with the starchy unripe plantains. The plantains are cut into rounds, fried in oil, smashed flat and then fried again until crisp and golden brown. Salt is then added for flavor and they’re served as a sort of french-fry side dish. For those of you who live in Athens, both of these can be found at Cali n’ Titos!

Side note: If you’re looking for patacones on the menu at Cali n’ Tito’s, you will find that they are called tostones. 

5. Arroz con Leche: Let’s finish off with a dessert! Arroz con leche is a typical rice pudding dessert. For this dish, rice is cooked in milk with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, sugar and raisins. It is a dish that is popular throughout the entire Central American region, and considered a very traditional dessert. For some, it is an acquired taste, but don’t worry, you’ll be able to judge for yourself, because the kitchen staff on campus makes up fantastic batches for our eating pleasure!

Well, those are our favorites, but you should try out some of the included recipes to decide for yourself!

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