Food is important. No matter where you are, who you're talking to, or who you are with, food brings people together unlike anything else. I had the great privilege of visiting Costa Rica last year and food made me feel muy feliz. While in Central America, I tried anything and everything! I stayed with a host family in the central town of San Pablo de Heredía. Rosmery, my host mother, cooked for a majority of my stay. After every outing, I came home to the smell of delicious food on the table. 

Besides being a tourist destination, Costa Rica has rich food history that blends with the Latin culture of the country. Being from America, this was a new food culture experience for me. Discover my top Costa Rican dishes and the culture you can bring to any gathering.

Breakfast Bread and Coffee

Photo by Alisa Anton | Unsplash

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Breakfast in Costa Rica is a totally different ball game than it is here in the United States. In the U.S., everyone is used to piling on the sausages or bacon until their plate is about to overflow. Costa Ricans see breakfast in a completely different way. Each morning, I enjoyed a piece of flaky bread with butter and my daily dose of caffeine—that was it. Nothing heavy, just light and quick! 

Seafood and Rice Paella

Photo by Cel Lisboa | Unsplash

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Paella is a staple dish in any Costa Rican household. Rosmery, my mama tica, would use rice as the base of many dishes and add meat, seafood, veggies or sometimes, all three. Top it off with any of your favorite spices and dinner is served. This dish is very simple and good for anyone who wants a hardy and fast meal. College students especially: you can substitute the sausage for chicken and take out the seafood if you'd prefer. I would say this dish can last approximately four days.

Beans and Rice (Gallo Pinto)

beans, rice
Sabrina Dorow

Another common dish Costa Ricans love is rice and beans (Gallo Pinto). This dish, similar to the paella, is quick and easy. You can pair this meal with any vegetable (i.e. asparagus, peppers, yucca, etc)—whatever is handy in your fridge. For those who don't know, yucca (you-cah) is native to Central America and is similar to a potato. The only difference being the edible part of the vegetable is only the root that grows underneath the plant itself. 

Trying any of these dishes above is a great start to understanding the food culture in Costa Rica. But these dishes are just the beginning. Once you go to Costa Rica, you will never want to come home. Learning about different county's food culture is a great way to begin the journey of discovering new things!