Farmers Markets

In almost every town or neighborhood there is a weekly farmers market. Offered up are mounds of onions and peppers, whole hands of bananas and row upon row of lettuce. Quality is often better and prices lower than in the supermarkets. It’s also a lot more satisfying than choosing from among plastic-wrapped cucumbers at the local supermarket. You probably won’t find organic products as they are still a novelty but it’s been seen as of late in some of the markets.

The markets are social occasions, with housewives chatting with neighbors or with vendors they’ve come to know. Cheese, meats, and fresh juices are often available as are plants, from daisies to orchids. Arrive early in the morning for the best selection and bring your own bags or cart as they don’t have them there.


Costa Rica Food

Costa Rica food is a fusion cuisine. It combines elements of culinary traditions from Africa, Italy, France, China, and Spain, flavored by traditional grains (rice, corn, and beans), roots (cassava, taro roots, sweet potatoes), spices (coriander, garlic, annatto, saffron, parsley, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, salt, and pepper), oils (olive oil, vegetable oil, and lard), sauces (Lizano, Soy, and Worcestershire), fresh fruit, and vegetables. The food is mild to slightly seasoned.

The most common dishes that reflect the rural culture and are served in typical food restaurants are Gallo Pinto (Spotted Rooster) and Casados (Married.) Gallo Pinto consists of rice and beans seasoned with coriander, onions and Worcestershire sauce usually served for breakfast with scramble or fried eggs and a cup of Agua Dulce (pure sugar cane diluted in hot water) or coffee. Casado consists of white rice, black or red beans served with pork, steak, or chicken, a small portion of cabbage/lettuce & tomato salad, and fried plantains. All is served in one dish for lunch or dinner with a refreshment or coffee.

Traditional food goes beyond Gallo Pinto and Casados. You can delight yourself with more main dishes, drinks, tapas, and desserts. Popular main dishes are Arroz Guacho (sticky rice,) higado en salsa (beef liver salsa,) Escaveche (chicken escaveche,) pozole, ceviche, Arroz con Pollo (chicken rice), Papas con Chorizo (Chorizo sausage with potatoes,) Frito (Pork Stew) Olla de Carne, Barbudos (String bean omelet,) and Mondongo (Beef Stomach Soup.)

Common refreshments are Horchata (Ground Rice & Cinnamon Drink), Pinolillo (Corn Cocoa Drink,) or Resbaladera (Rice & Barley Drink.)

Common tapas are Platanos Maduros (Fried Ripe Plantains), Platanos asados (Baked Ripe Plantains), Pejibayes (Peach Palm), Picadillo de Chayote con Elote (Minced Vegetable Pear with Corn), Picadillo de Papaya Verde (Minced Green Papaya), and Picadillo de Vainicas (Minced String Beans with Beef.)

Common desserts are queque seco (Orange Pound Cake), Torta Chilena, Miel de Chiverre (Sweet White Spaghetti Squash), Tres Leches, Arroz con leche (rice pudding,) Dulce de Leche, and Suspiros (Maringues.)