Costa Rica (which literally means “rich coast”) is a country located in North America. It’s a small country that offers a wide variety of activities to do, views to enjoy, and fresh and mouth-watering food to try.
Costa Rica is 51,100 square kilometers bordering Caribbean sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. It has 7 provinces Limón, Guanacaste, Heredia, Alajuela, San José, being San José the one with 2 million people out of the 5 million of the total population.
In 1847 Costa Rica declared its independence and since 1949 it abolished its army allocating the income to the health, social and educational system. The Catholic faith is the most practiced and economical, it dependes on agriculture, the service of foreign companies, pharmaceuticals (industry) and ecotourism (services).
It’s volcanic origen gives a great variety of reliefs, tones of mountains that adorn the country, volcanoes that bring spring waters, different climates as well as vegetation. The climate is Tropical with a dry season (December to April) and a rainy season (May to November). The average temperature is 12° and 27° Celsius with 74% to 90% humidity that provides characteristic cloudy skies.
If you plan to visit the country, I recommend the dry season, however the green vegetation and the rain are present throughout the year.
The country has 1287.48 kilometers of coastline, around 300 beautiful beaches. It has 14 main rivers that originate in the mountains and flow into the valleys creating countless waterfalls. Adrenaline sports, contact with nature as well as outdoor activities are part of the culture and most seek activities while visiting the country.
The culture is a blend of ancient influences. A good representation is “Pura Vida” (Pure Life) the well-known phrase for the Ticos (Costa Ricans).
The country has been in the top 20 of the happiest countries in the world and its culture is a proof of this, so having a relaxing vacation or establishing business is possible due to the good general of the Costa Rican population in the region.
— COSTA RICAN CUISINE —
Long summers and rainy seasons provide the country with green views, fresh food and rich soils to grow many crops that contribute the economy and diet of its population. The dishes and meals that are commonly consumed may vary in the area of the country, the Caribbean coast has some differences with the pacific coast, for example.
Food is generally cooked from scratch with fresh ingredients and the presence of the food is very evident in all restaurants and homes, as food is an important aspect of Costa Rica culture. Family gatherings and celebrations are often focused on preparing a meal and enjoy it all together, however, due to the tourist economy many urban areas are offering international options and more processed food.
Indigenous people of Costa Rica consumed corn as a large part of their diet but modern cuisine it has some variations from the Spanish conquest. Nowadays, rice and beans are usually consumed three times a day, fish and chicken (more common in the Caribbean along with coconut milk), pork and beef (most common in the rest of Costa Rica), potatoes, yuca (known as cassava), ripe and green plantains (family of the bananas), fruits, sugarcane (used for desserts and sweets) and Salsa Lizano (famous sauce added to gallo pinto, tamales and other dishes) are present every day on the table.
Costa Rican food is renowned for its large meals, the Casado is one of the country’s main meals and is consumed at lunch with a “fresco” fruit juice. The meal consists of rice, beans, picadillo (vegetable cooked with some seasonings), fried plantain, green salad and the favorite meet such as pork fillet with onion, fish, beef in tomato sauce, chicken among others.
Chifrijo is the combination of rice and beans, pork called chicharrones, pico de gallo (tomate salad with onion, pepper and lime) with some garnish such as tortilla chips and avocado. The ingredients are added in a big bowl and eaten with a spoon. I consider the meal as a heavy but very tasty.
Gallo pinto is another of the most traditional foods, it’s the favorite breakfast of Costa Ricans. It’s the mixture of, once again, rice and beans (usually leftovers form other meal) mixed with the famous Salsa Lizano and is accompanied by eggs (scrambled or fried), plantains, fresh cheese, custard and tomato. Coffee or “agua dulce” (sugarcane hot drink) are always present for this time of day.
For the sweet option: Churchill is a very famous dessert in the pacific area and its part of the tradition to enjoy while relaxing on the beach, so at this time the flavor of the selected ice cream was the Churchill flavor which is the combination of powdered milk, condensed milk with kola syrup (like strawberry flavor). I requested the ice cream topped with brown derby (hard chocolate and peanuts topping).
Pops is one of the famous ice cream shops in the whole country. It’s local and the flavors tend to alternate with seasonal fruits and products. More on IG: @heladospopscostarica
Ceviche is a raw fish, usually corvina, cooked in vinegar and lemon. Onions and peppers are added to the preparation and they are accompanied with crackers (Soda from Pozuelo) and extra lime. The dish is very light and refreshing to enjoy at any time of the day.
Arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) and rice with seafood are the other most common foods in the country. As its name says, it’s the combination of white rice with chicken or seafood, green salad and beans, potatoes or any other accompaniments. It’s prepared in a distinctive way with Salsa Lizano and some spices and finely chopped vegetables and served at celebrations as it’s prepared in large quantity.
Being a Costa Rican living in another country with the opportunity to explore many different places gave me the desire to explore more of my country. It really made me appreciate the richness of the territory, the people and the food. You can check @mmmbycata on IG: www.instagram.com/mmmbycata/