Costa Rican food is a blend of Native American, Spanish and African cuisines, it is known for being simple, wholesome, flavourful and fairly mild. 'Comida tipica' or native dishes rely heavily on rice and beans, the basis of many Costa Rican meals. Gallo Pinto is Costa Rica's national dish and consists of fried rice and black beans, mainly served as a breakfast meal.
Many Costa Rican recipes are derivatives of Gallo Pinto, for example 'arroz con pollo' or 'arroz con atún'. Indeed, at lunch Gallo Pinto becomes Casado, which is rice and beans served side by side instead of mixed, usually with the addition of meat, fried plantains or a salad.
Salsa Lizano is a ubiquitous condiment in Costa Rica. It is slightly sweet with a hint of spiciness and considered particularly complementary with eggs, rice, beans, cheese and as a marinade for meat. Other dishes that are considered very traditional include, the “olla de carne”, a soup made of vegetables like chayote (a type of squash), yucca, potatoes and cubed meat and bones.
Coffee and bananas are the two main agricultural exports of the country and so also form a large part of Costa Rican cuisine. Despite of vast coastlines, seafood like shrimp or lobster, is expensive because Costa Rica exports most of its seafood. However freshwater fish, are often a staple part of Costa Rican recipes.
Bocas are another fundamental part of Costa Rican food. They are a cultural item as much as a food item. The small to medium sized snacks often complimentary when you purchase a drink at a bar, usually consist of ceviche or chicken wings or bean soup. If you are lucky and the Bocas are large (or you drink a lot), you can make an excellent meal out of them.