The food of Costa Rica is well-known in the kitchens, cafes and restaurants of its people, but it hasn’t made a grand impression outside of the country as of yet.
The Vice President of Costa Rica has made it clear that she wants Costa Rica to be known for more than just its beaches, monkeys and sloths. The National Plan for Sustainable and Healthy Costa Rican Gastronomy will promote the heritage of Costa Rica’s culinary expression through agricultural and food tourism. The desire to place Costa Rica into the same territory as Mexico, Peru, Chile and Argentina stems from greater interest from many travelers that mark destinations they want to venture to based on the epicurean delights of the country.
The most highly prized food item from Costa Rica is coffee in regard to both numbers of exports and the general critical opinion of its flavor. Outside of that one food item, there’s bananas, which are great, but don’t offer up a sophisticated flavor profile. The complexity of Costa Rican dishes has to be more than that, right? Of course. There are plenty of dishes in Costa Rica that please and show creativity at the same time.
It is somewhat curious that Lizano hasn’t made the jump to the international level. The vegetable based sweet yet slightly spicy sauce has all the makings of a desirable topping, and is used for just about everything in Costa Rica. Lizano, however, gets little to no recognition outside of the land of its origin.
Other than sauces and singular items such as coffee and bananas, Costa Rica already has a relatively prolific list of dishes made as everyday items or for special events. Dishes such as Gallo Pinto, Chifrio, Chicharone, Olla de Carne and the daily Casado are more or less regular fare with distinct flavor profiles and the ability to satiate consumers. Then there are the Caribbean dishes, which add an entirely different element, such as patacones, pan bon and patí. These dishes often incorporate food items found along the coast, and are inspired by cuisine similar to that of Jamaica, Aruba or some of the other islands.
All told, Costa Rica’s gastronomy is varied and refined. It is certain to give visitors a better perspective of the culture at large, but it isn’t something that can be completely experienced in just one trip. The food of Costa Rica changes as the topography does, and what you eat in Manuel Antonio will be different from what you get in San Jose which won’t be the same as what you eat in Límon. You’ll have to seek it out, and decide for yourself what you like best.