What's to eat?

It’s all about the basics when you’re cooking Costa Rican food- staple ingredients like proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables are all beautifully combined on one plate.  It is easy to fall in love with all of the amazing dishes that Costa Ricans prepare in their everyday lives. 

A homestay with a Costa Rican family is the best way to progress in the language and to learn about the culture.  Nevertheless, sometimes the food itself can be the most challenging thing to get used to in a new place!  To read about some restaurant options in Heredia, click here.

What’s for breakfast?  Gallo pinto is the breakfast of champions in Costa Rica!  It is a mixture of rice and beans served with eggs, fried plantains, and either bread or tortillas.  This typical breakfast will keep you full for hours and was originally eaten on a daily basis by the field workers to maintain their energy and stamina for hard labor.  Cereal is not a typical breakfast food here, although it is becoming more and more popular amongst those busy working families.  Nowadays, many Ticos are working in call centers or secretary positions, and with a more sedentary lifestyle, breakfast has changed a little bit to include a fruit, yogurt and granola bowl or eggs and sausage.

What’s for lunch and dinner? At home, Ticos usually cook typical “casados for lunch and dinner.  This particular dish normally includes a main portion of meat with a side of rice, beans, salad, fried plantains, and a natural fruit juice to wash it all down.  One of the most popular Costa Rican dinners is arroz con pollo (rice with chicken).  You can make a large quantity all at once, enough to feed the entire family in the house, which may include Mom, Dad, brothers and sisters, Grandma and Grandpa and even an aunt or uncle.  Learn to make arroz con pollo here with a Costa Rican chef!  Another popular dish here is picadillo de papa y carne molida (chopped potatoes with ground beef).  This flavorful meal is loaded with different seasonings and usually served with rice.     

Snacks throughout the day usually include many different treats from a nearby reposterías (pastry shops) like an empanada or enchilada (bread pastry filled with potatoes and spices).  Costa Rican food is always flavorful and always filling.  It’s loaded with everything you need to function during your Spanish classes and the majority of the time is a very fresh and healthy choice.  So next time you find yourself worrying about whether or not you’ll enjoy the food living with a homestay family here in Costa Rica, remember that there is always a wide variety to choose from and it’s just part of the adventure!  ¡Viva comida típica! Long live typical Costa Rican food!

By Katie Horch