Food and Clothing

Food of Costa Rica

*Note: This section contains a word-for-word copied area. The citations are on the Bibliography page. According to MLA 7, a quotation longer than four lines must have a one inch indent for all lines without quotations, and so I have formatted it the best I could.

Costa Rican food, like most Central American food, is based on black beans and rice, tortillas and bread, fried plantains, and coffee. Costa Ricans like their coffee strong and black. Most people don’t like sissy things like azúcar, crema, jarabe, or other edulcorantes in their coffee. Unlike western countries, the main meal of the day fo Costa Ricans is lunch, so that’s when the family gathers around the table, has a big meal, and has some conversation. Costa Ricans have the right idea for that, they can use the large lunch on all the busy activities they have in the afternoon and have a smaller dinner because at night people do less work and have leisure time and get ready for bed, turning the food to fat strorage. It’s a good thing, you get to actually use up all the energy that you take. Because all Costa Ricans have lunch as their most important meal, most companies and other work places give two hours for lunch break. A common Costa Rican meal of black beans and rice is called gallo pinto. Costa Ricans, or Ticos, call common meals or common food comida tipica.

Costa Ricans also gustos mucho stews and soups. For example there is the famous olla de carne made of beef, potatoes, corn, plantains, yucca, and other vegetables. Other popular soups: zarzuelas, a spicy seafood dish, sopa negra, made of black beans, guiso de maize, a corn stew, and others.Many dishes are prepared with oils and fats, but most main dishes are accompanied with stews and salads which all contain many vegetables. A salad in Costa Rica contains tomate, col, and zanahorias. Corn is a popular food and is used in many dishes like tortillas and empanadas, corn turnovers with corn, meat, beans, cheese, and potato.  Except for the occasional tad of melted cheese in tacos, empanadas, and others, dairy products aren’t very liked in Costa Rica. Costa Rican food is generally healthy, high in fiber and not very adventurous or exotic. Costa Ricans never eat too much, and if a young person eats too much too greedily, adults scold them.

Fried Plantains

Tamales are hand made for Christmas by the women in an extended family. If Ticos are hungry, they take healthy snacks called plantains. They look like large bananas. Plantains are always eaten either baked or fried in slices and then it tastes sweet and crunchy like a potato chip. However, remember, never eat llantenes sin procesar! Plantains are poisonous when raw.

At this restaurant in San José I had a special plantain dish. These plantains were sliced very thin and deep fried so that they tasted just like Lays™!

Drinks in Costa Rica are very simple. Water, beer, coffee, and refrescos. Refrescos are cold blended fruit drinks, and some are carbonated. Refrescos are sold everywhere! Refrescos are needed on hot days because water sometimes just isn’t thirst quenching enough. Adults drink beer when they are thirsty, and the alcohol consumption level in Costa Rica is very high. Wine isn’t popular and is expensive in Costa Rica. A man in Costa Rica would drink beer and guaro, a clear, strong white alcoholic drink that most visitors can’t stand. Some fruits that grow in Costa Rica: papaya, mango, piña, sandía, melón, guayaba, granadilla, aguacates, marañon, zapotes, pipas, pejibaye, carambola, and manzana de agua. Zapotes are brown fruits that look like big avacadoes and are red-orange. They are very sweet and pulpy. Marañons have bitter thick skins and sweet soft flesh, but they can’t be eaten raw because of their veneno. Pipas are coconuts and green. Pipas are only used for the sweeter milk inside. Pejibaye fruits are cousins of the coconuts and thick flesh and tastes like a pumpkin. Manzana de agua is a refreshing, juicy, pear-shaped dark red fruit. Carambola is light and juicy. When it is cut through the center it looks like there is a five-pointed star, hence the name starfruit.


Manzana de Aguas

In meats, roast pork is the most popular dish, and so on special occasions people eat a roast pig, cake, and sweets. Pork and chicken, the two most frequently eaten meats in Costa Rica are cooked over coffee wood to get a smoky taste. Fish that Costa Ricans enjoy eating is the dorado and the corvina.

The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica has a slightly different style of food. If in all other regions of Costa Rica go crazy over corn, the Caribbean coast goes crazy over coconuts. They use coconut butter, drink coconut milk, grate coconuts…Every dish has a tad of coco in it.


     Tortilla – name for either a small, thin corn tortilla, or an omellete

     Tortilla de queso – a thick tortilla with cheese in the dough

     Arreglados – greasy puff pastries made with meat

     Tortas – sandwiches on buns

      Arroz con polo – rice with chicken and vegetables

     Gallos – meat, beans, or cheese between two tortillas

      Masamorra – corn pudding

      Natilla – sour cream of a relatively thin consistency

      Palomitas de maíz – popcorn

      Picadillo – sautéed vegetables sometimes with meat, served as a side dish

      Tacos – meat and cabbage salad tucked into a tortilla

      Tamal de elote – sweet corn tamales wrapped in corn husks

      Tamales – cornmeal, often stuffed with pork or chicken, wrapped in banana leaves and boiled



     Deserts and Sweets

      Cajeta de coco – a fudge made of coconut, tapa dulce, and orange peel Cono capuchino – an ice cream cone dipped in chocolate
      Melcochas – candies made from raw sugar
      Milanes and tapitas – small, delicious, pure-chocolate candies
      Tapa dulce – brown sugar, native to Costa Rica, sold in a solid form
      Dulce de leche – a thick syrup made of sugar and milk
      Tres leches – a three-layered custard flan, and the national desert

Tres Leches

      Breads and Baked Goods

      Pan bon – a dark, sweet bread of Limon.
      Pan de maíz – a thick, sweet bread made with corn.
      Queque seco – pound cake
      Tamal asado – sweet cornmeal cake
      Torta chilena – a multi-layered pastry filled with dulce de leche

When you go visit Costa Rica, and the food doesn’t suit you, relax. Most restaurants have steaks and sandwiches, and at restaurants, parties, and bars, all of the entrees are salty and westerner taste fitting.

Clothing in Costa Rica

Like most countries, Costa Rica has their own traditional clothing. These traditional garments are worn on holidays and special occasions. During other times, Ticos wear normal western clothing like shorts and t-shirts. A strange fact is that though the weather is warm (for more information on climate check the page Family Life and Climate!) men always wear long pants instead of shorts. Still don’t be afraid to wear shorts on the beach, no one will look at you strangely! Costa Ricans, especially working-class people, sometimes eat less to get good stylish clothing because they believe that good clothing leaves a good first impression and that dress is most important, especially when meeting new people. Everyone is expected to wear clean, unwrinkled clothing, especially boys and men. Many people wear jeans and t-shirts and other common clothes, but girls still in grade school can only wear their school uniform during the day because they consider it proper for a girl.

For women traditional garments is a dress with no sleeves and thick, frilly ruffles sticking out from the shoulders. The most popular colors are rojo, azul, and amarillo, but any bright color will do. The dresses have long skirts made of flowered, shiny material that reaches all the way to the woman’s ankles. Although the skirt is fancy, the clothing from the waist up is plain white cotton top (which sometimes has frills round the color, it’s a sheer, low cut, u-neck top) and a wide red cloth is wrapped around the shirt and skirt like a cummerbund to make a dress. As a final touch many woman put flowers in their ears or wrap cotton or silk shawls called a rebozo.

Costa Rican Clothing

Men’s clothing is simple and elegant. The man wears a plain, solid colored top (it’s usually white, but any bright color other than red would do) and long pants (once again, usually white, but any bright color excepting red would be fine, but it should, to be perfectly traditional, be the same color as the top). As a dash of color, once again a wide red cloth, usually silk would be tied like a cummerbund between the top and pants. As a final touch men wear straw cowboy hats and a red handkerchief fashionably tied around the neck.


41 Responses to “Food and Clothing”

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    […] Costa Rican youth culture. Like most cultures Costa Rica has traditional clothing but according to that clothing is only worn during holidays and special occasions. During the rest of the time […]

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