Well thankfully I didn’t gain any pounds while in Costa Rica, but it certainly wasn’t my diet that kept it that way. It’s a good thing I was working on farms, because for three months I dealt with “comida tipica.” Costa Rican food is good flavor wise (not sure if it’s very healthy) the first few times, but after a while everything started looking and tasting the same.
gallo pinto with scrambled eggs, fried plantains, and cream
Eating out: Lunch/Dinner
Very typical plates that you can get at any Costa Rican restaurant or soda (basically a kitchen with a bar all over Costa Rica, in the countryside and city) are called casados (marriage). Generally you get rice, beans, salad, some sort of meat in a sauce, and a refresco for $3-$5.
Fried yuca, rice, shrimp with onion and pepper, plantain, and salad
Chicken fajitas (without tortillas), black beans, rice, salad
Eating at the farm
My birthday dinner: meat, pickled vegetable salad, rice, beans, and tortilla chips
Typical Costa Rican soup: root vegetables (potato, yuca, taro, carrots, sweet potato), pear squash, chicken, pork, and culantro. This was for the New Year’s party
Tamale for Christmas: drop a spoonful of a cornmeal, salt, and water mixture on a banana leaf, add a tablespoon of cooked rice, one slice of carrot, a green bean, a sliver of sweet pepper, and a cube of pork, wrap banana leaf around tamale to make a package, tie up and boil
Honestly a lot of work for not a whole lot of flavor. One of the most boring foods I ate. Adding some salsa Lizano helped.
Dessert and Snacks
Lot’s of treats at the farm all the time. They call this “pan” (bread), but really it was like a cookie. Luz did a lot of baking because she really likes sweets. Everything she baked she made with margarine. There was no butter in the house until a French couple came.
Tamal: a sweet dessert/snack made with cornstarch, sugar, coconut, margarine, milk, and cream. You can find this in every bakery in Costa Rica.
Here’s my birthday cake. The cakes in Costa Rica are a horrible mixture of sugar, sugar, and flour. The frosting is a sickly sweet whipped cream. This one had a layer of dulce de leche which is a caramel condensed milk.
Here is yuca, which ended up being one of my favorite root vegetables. It has to be cooked within a few days of harvesting. It has a potato-like texture but the flavor is different. It’s great boiled and then fried or grated and cooked like hash browns.
Every week Luz and Memo would vend bananas at the local farmer’s market. This meant we would eat the bananas they didn’t sell. It was common for us to eat green bananas. You eat is just like a potato, peel, boil in salt water, and eat.
There really weren’t too many foods I didn’t recognize at La Feria (farmer’s market in San Isidro de General). All the fruit in Costa Rica was so fresh. I ate a lot of bananas, oranges, papaya, and pineapple.
Honestly eating in Costa Rica gets really repetitive. They don’t use a whole lot of spices. They don’t try other cuisines. They know cilantro, garlic, sweet pepper, onion, cinnamon, salsa lizano, and sazon completa. Salsa lizano is the Costa Rican version of worcestershire sauce. A combination of water, vinegar, sugar, and vegetable concentrates. At the first farm there wasn’t even black pepper. And it’s hard to find spicy food in Costa Rica. I’m glad to be back home where there’s so much more variety.