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Kitchen Connection Goes to: Costa Rica

Kitchen Connection Goes to: Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a sovereign state in Central America with a population of 5 million people. It is a very popular vacation spot, making tourism a very large industry. The official language is Spanish, although many people speak English. Costa Rica’s government is one of the most progressive in terms of environmental sustainability, and plans to be carbon neutral by 2021. 

Official Name: The Republic of Costa Rica 

Capital: San Jose

Official Language(s): Spanish

National Dish(es):Gallo Pinto


Gallo Pinto is a classic rice and beans mixture that is the national dish in Costa Rica. It can be eaten with scrambled eggs for breakfast, or alongside rice for lunch or dinner. The main seasoning in Gallo Pinto is Salsa Lizano, which gives the dish it’s smoky flavor.


Fun Facts:

Costa Rica’s main exports include coffee, bananas, sugar, cattle and cocoa. Their main imports include mining goods, transportation equipment and fuel.






"Insider Foodage"

*Country:  Costa Rica

*Continent:  North America

Capital: San Jose


*Largest City (ies):  San Jose

*Primary Language(s):   Spanish

*%Urban to Rural:  78.56%

*Primary Agricultural Exports:  bananas, pineapples, coffee, sugar, rice,vegetables, tropical fruits, ornamental plants, corn, potatoes and palm oil.

*Population: 5,043,084

*Food expenditure for one week:  $365.47

*Caloric intake available daily per person:  2,848 kcal

*Alcohol consumption per capita:: 4.15 litre

*Obese population: 24.30%

*Meat consumption per person per year: 51.1 kg

*Prevalence of Hunger:  5 Global Index Score

The Food


It’s fair to say that Costa Rican cuisine is not the most exciting in the world. At least not compared with many other places. Many come to Costa Rica expecting some variation of spicy Mexican food. With that expectation, many are let down. But what Tico food lacks in excitement, it makes up for in wholesome, tasty nourishment. Costa Ricans don’t like their food too spicy, and mildness is key. With that said, most restaurant tables will have a bottle of hot sauce for those who want to spice things up.

If there were two words that would sum up Costa Rican food, then those two words are “rice” and “beans”. The rice comes white and the beans come black.  Pretty much every traditional meal comes with them. Alongside the rice and beans will come vegetables and perhaps a piece of meat (beef), chicken or fish. And that’s it! That’s a typical, simple Costa Rican meal. Delicious? Yes. Does it set the world alight? No.

There are variations, of course. On the Caribbean side, the cuisine is more influenced by that Afro-Caribbean vibe. Dishes come cooked in coconut milk with plenty of pork and goat.

Tico-Chinese cuisine is different from the Chinese food that you’ll find on the streets of New York or San Francisco. Not better or worse – just…. different.

The most famous Costa Rican dish (the Nicaraguans also claim it as their own and the jury is out on who is right) is gallo pinto.  This literally translates as “spotted rooster”. It’s a breakfast dish of refried beans cooked with rice and infused with cilantro, red pepper, onions and other ingredients and sauces. It’s generally served with a form of sour cream called natilla with eggs and toast.


James Diggans / Flickr / Commercial Use Allowed


Other dishes include the casado (described above – rice, beans, and veggies with chicken or meat) and specialty dishes such as arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) or olla de carne (a kind of beef stew).

Costa Ricans have a sweet tooth and love a dessert called tres-leche, made up of sweetened kinds of milk soaked in sponge. Fruit juices are popular too, and often come sweetened with a bunch of sugar.

Being a tropical country, Costa Rica has many exotic fruits and vegetables. Plantains, mangos, bananas, coconuts, pineapples, and others make up a significant part of the daily diet.

Outside of traditional Costa Rican food, there are also plenty of international choices. The fast food revolution has hit Costa Rica. McDonald’s, KFC, and Burger King are everywhere, especially in the larger cities. Street food is often a piece of greasy fried chicken bought over the counter and wrapped in a tortilla. No real difference from the meat you’ll find at KFC. Ticos love their pizza too. Choices range from chains like Pizza Hut to local imitations and high-end Italian restaurants.

The tourist influx into Costa Rica has also created a vibrant food scene.  Restaurants from all over the world are found in the beach resort towns and around the capital of San Jose.

And of course, there is coffee. As with every other Central American country that produces coffee, Costa Ricans proclaim that theirs is the best in the world. In the words of someone or other, “it’s damn fine coffee”.

*National Dish (es):  Gallo Pinto

*National Drink(s):  Guaro Guaro, Coffee

*Local produce:  

*Main religions: Christianity (majority Roman Catholic)

*Indigenous communities and their dishes: Afro-Costa Ricans (4%), indigenous Costa Ricans


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