I’ve been living abroad in Costa Rica for two and a half months now. And I haven’t blogged until now.
BUT, in these months, I’ve had the pleasure of trying a bunch of different Costa Rican foods–comidas típicas–and have found some of the best.
Agua Fresca/ Batidos
Even when you’re in the middle of bustling San Jose, fresh fruit is super easy to come by. One of my favorite ways to try out such a variety of different fruits is with agua fresca. High-end restaurants and cheap corner sodas alike offer tons of varieties of this drink–fruit of your choice, water, and sugar, all blended up into a delicious, refreshing treat. Fresa (strawberry) is always a good go-to, but I recommend maracuya (passion fruit) and cas (a type of guava) if you want a true taste of Costa Rica.
This dish translated means married man, and I’m still not exactly sure why. But casado is always your best bet if you’re in doubt what to order. The plate comes with rice, beans, fried plantains, salad, your meat (or vegetarian option of choice), as well as picadillo (more on that later). Each restaurant has their own spin on how it’s made, and even my host mother has a version different from others I’ve tried. Also, casado is usually one of the cheapest options on the menu, so if you’re traveling on a budget, you can get your complete proteins and a great meal in one!
Picadillo means chopped up anything. Literally. Most of the picadillos I’ve come across have been small diced potatoes, carrots, and green beans, served warm. Some people use ajote (similar to zucchini) or yuca as their starches. I’ve had it with some ground beef or chorizo thrown in, too. It’s a staple of any casado you order, and I can almost always bet on having picadillo de something for dinner with my San Jose host family. It tastes especially good during cold, rainy season evenings.
Walk into any convenience store and you’ll come across Costa Rica’s cookie of choice: Chiky. It’s pink and orange packaging tends to stick out, and I really have to resist from buying packages upon packages each time I walk home from school. I can’t say there’s anything special about them: 6 small crunchy cookies with a chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry covered side. They’re pretty low-frills–maybe that’s why they’re so great.
Macadamia Nut Ice Cream
Maybe this flavor isn’t distinct to Costa Rica, but when I had Macadamia Nut Ice Cream deep in dairy farm country in Monteverde, it was truly an emotional experience. The combination of salty and sweet was just perfect, and as a gal that opts for birthday cake, red velvet, or other wincingly sweet flavors, I was happily surprised. Too bad I ate it too quickly to even take a quality photo. So, if you ever find yourself in Costa Rica, pay the $8 for a bus that takes you to Monteverde and get yourself a cone.