Almost 95% of the Costa Rican population are of Spanish or Mestizo (mixed) heritage, heavily influencing the country's cooking style. Costa Rica's traditionally mild, not over-spiced cuisine usually features rice and beans, which are also the main ingredients in the national recipe, gallo pinto.
arreglados—sandwiches or tiny puff pastries stuffed with beef, cheese, or chicken. Greasy!
arroz con pollo—a basic dish of chicken and rice
casado—arroz (rice), frijoles (black beans), carne (beef), repollo (cabbage), and plantano (plantain). Avocado (aguacates) or egg may also be included.
ceviche—marinated seafood, often chilled, made of corvina (sea bass), langostinos (shrimps), or conchas (shellfish). Normally served with lemon, chopped onion, garlic, and sweet red peppers.
chorreados—corn pancakes, often served with sour cream (natilla)
elote—corn on the cob, either boiled (elote cocinado) or roasted (elote asado)
empanadas—turnovers stuffed with beans, cheese, meat, or potatoes
enchiladas—pastries stuffed with cheese and potatoes and occasionally meat
gallo—tortilla sandwiches stuffed with beans, cheese, or meat
gallo pinto—the national dish (literally "spotted rooster"), made of lightly spiced rice and black beans. Traditional breakfast (desayuno) or lunch dish. Sometimes includes huevos fritos (fried eggs).
olla de carne—soup made of squash, corn, yuca (a local tuber), chayote (a local pear-shaped vegetable), ayote (a pumpkinlike vegetable), and potatoes
palmitos—succulent hearts of palm, common in salads
patacones—thin slices of deep-fried plantain. A popular Caribbean dish. Served like French fries.
pescado ahumado—smoked marlin
picadillo—a side dish of fried vegetables and meat
sopa negra—a creamy soup, often with a hard-boiled egg and vegetables soaking in the bean broth
sopa de mondongo—soup made from tripe (the stomach of a cow)
tamales—boiled cornmeal pastries stuffed with corn, chicken, or pork, and wrapped in a banana or corn leaf. A popular Christmas dish.
tortillas—Mexican-style corn pancakes or omelettes
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This page modified January 2007
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