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Learning Spanish opens up a delightful gateway to experiencing the rich culinary culture of Costa Rica firsthand. As you venture into local eateries, understanding the language allows you to navigate the menu and order with ease. A typical order might start with a friendly “Hola,” followed by a request such as “Me gustaría ordenar,” which means “I would like to order.” From there, dive into ordering classics like “Casado,” a wholesome meal combining rice, beans, plantains, and a choice of meat, or “Gallo Pinto,” a beloved breakfast dish blending rice and black beans. Exploring the language enriches your palate, letting you savor Costa Rican flavors in a more authentic and enjoyable manner.

 

 

arroz con pollo — rice with chicken

casado — a varied dish consisting of chicken, beef, pork or fish with rice, beans, salad, picadillo and sweet plantains

chifrijo — pork rind (chicharrón) with beans, rice, chimichurri and tortilla chips

chimichurri — a common dip for tortilla chips, typically made with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, avocado, lime and salt

frijoles molidos — mashed beans, a popular dip

gallo pinto — rice and beans served for breakfast, often with eggs, tortillas, fruit and sour cream (natilla)

guacamole — mashed avocados with tomato, lime, salt and sometimes chili

natural — a fruit drink made with milk or water and blended pineapple, tamarind, watermelon, cantaloupe, banana, strawberry, blackberry or other fruits

olla de carne — beef stew with potatoes, corn, carrots and other vegetables

patacones — mashed, fried plantains

picadillo — chopped vegetables, which may include pumpkin, chayote (vegetable pear), potatoes, green plantains, arracache (a tuber), heart of palm, green papaya, garlic, onion, cilantro, bell pepper and/or celery, and may contain beef, pork, chicken or bacon

plátano maduro/maduro — sweet, fried plantain

rice and beans — Caribbean rice and beans, made with coconut milk

rondón — a Caribbean stew of seafood, vegetables, coconut milk and whatever the cook can “run down”

sopa de mondongo — tripe soup

tamales — tamales, a Christmas favorite made of corn meal filled with beef or pork and sometimes vegetables, wrapped in a plantain leaf

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