Tico cuisine of Costa Rica

Bocas, ©Afner Hernández/Flickr

Bocas, ©Afner Hernández/Flickr

Visiting Costa Rica you may think that the local cuisine is not very interesting and large. You will find Costa Rica‘s national food, gallo pinto in each and every place of the country but besides the tourist has the strong impression that Tico cuisine is rather unimaginative and nondescript. The national dish made of fried rice and black beans cooked together with barely hint of onion, red pepper, cilantro and broth, containing lot of protein can be a tasty and healthy food for vegetarians.

It is often eaten by the locals three times a day with variations of eggs, cheese, meat, or chicken, and chayote stew or salad at dinner. You also won’t be able to avoid the national and favorite tropical food, the excellent seafood and a variety of Tico specialties that are worth to try.

Exotic Fruits

As there are a number of unique and exotic fruits and flavors to explore in Costa Rica, the best way to sample most of them is in refrescos, a Tico take on a shake. Refrescos made of blended fruit and ice, are very popular refreshments, and are available at most corner stores and restaurants letting you enjoy a fresh fruit shake anywhere you are.

Mango, ©bangdoll@flickr/Flickr

Mango, ©bangdoll@flickr/Flickr

Most familiar flavors you must try while being in Costa Rica are mango, blackberry (mora), pineapple (xoticpina), watermelon (sandía). The most bizarre food you can taste is called the pejibaye, a relative of the cocon. Its flesh is thick and fibrous, and resembles the taste of chestnut or pumpkin. They are usually boiled in salt water, peeled, halved, pitted then eaten.

Bocas or Boquitas

Bocas are a cultural item as much as a food item and an experience in and of themselves. Bocas, also called boquitas consists of foods such as black beans, chicken stew or potato chips. They are small to medium sized snacks served with a drink you purchase in a bar.

Bocas, ©Afner Hernández/Flickr

Bocas, ©Afner Hernández/Flickr

The best choices on a good Bocas are spicier, more exotic fares than much of the standard Soda fares also having as bocas. If you are lucky and the Bocas are large (or drink a lot), you can make an excellent meal out of them. Please stay away from the huevos de tortuga (turtle eggs, eaten raw, sometimes with a little red pepper).

Regional Foods

Visiting Lake Arenal you’ll definitely never forget your first grilled bass, served with a delicious palmito salad. If you are traveling by the Caribbean coast you must try Jamaican seafood dishes, the mouthwatering chicken and the spiced breads. If you like Italian cuisine you may visit San Vito in the southern Cordillera de Talamanca. Having a significant Italian population you will find a variety of Italian restaurants.

Gallo pinto, ©Lablascovegmenu/Flickr

Gallo pinto, ©Lablascovegmenu/Flickr

Other culinary delights worth investigating are smoked trout and marlin, ceviche, a pipa fresh off the tree on the beach, Christmas tamales and other holiday and festival specialties, real cup of Costa Rican coffee from a chorreador de café, and let’s not forget gallo pinto.

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