Tico Dream Cuisine: Eat Some of This Wonder

by Rachel Gertz

Should you find yourself shipwrecked and washed up on the sugar sand beaches of Costa Rica, you’ll one day need to eat. A human can only live a few weeks without food before becoming irritable and a little defunct (not to mention dead). 

So, as you will, and because you have to: Eat!  I strongly suggest you sample the array of oddly delicious foods Costa Rica calls its own, of the traditional variety and of the just plain awesome. You may denounce eating anywhere else from that day forward. 

Diay (what can you expect?). 

To bring back marrow into your bones, eat the following….

Chicken

You will not believe the succulence of chicken here. It’s farm raised, like I nearly ran over it on the way to the table. It’s juicy, tastes like it was super relaxed before it died, and is filled with chickeny delicious flavour. Some of the best chicken here is the pollo frito (fried chicken) you can find in little tin can Tico restaurants. $5 will get you full of greasy chicken. Move over Colonel Sanders. I respect your work, but you got nothing on Costa Rican foul. Also, CR doesn’t cut the beaks off its chickens in stinkin’ factory farms. No, they really stink.

Casado

Yeah it means ‘married’ in Spanish, but being married is palatable, too. A marriage of rice, beans, onions, tomatoes, plantains, and a carne of the day (fish, chicken, beef, or egg) tickles your palette and leaves your wallet intact. Like $3 for a plateful. The jewel of casado is that it never tastes the same. And the semi-precious stone is that it’s actually good for you! Holy shit.

Pescado (La Fishie)

There’s a woman here who catches fish with her yellow tshirt. Well, maybe a net, but they end up in her shirt. Every morning she stockpiles 120 pounds of fish in her bosom. And she sells them. Just make sure you don’t spend too much time fishing around in her shirt for the right meat, if you know what I mean. Sexy fishnets have a whole new meaning. 

Did I mention the fish is fresh? 

Coffee

You suckers don’t know what you’re missing! Coffee here is like crack cocaine. It’s hot and aromatic (minus that dodgy gasoline smell), and it tastes just as good cold as it does hot.  I am quantifying the material cost of installing an IV drip into my neck. The best part? It doesn’t give you that crazy, just drank a litre of coffee from Starbucks feeling that results in scathing abdominal explosions. 

Foods You Should Barely Tolerate

Here?

  1. Cheese sucks. I mean, it’s cheese. But it’s really boring and rubbery. Unacceptable.
  2. Beef is the shits. Stringy meat in most restaurants and stores. The cows look cuter, but they’re bony as hell. Don’t trust a bony cow. 
  3. Except for the mean patty melt at Maxwells in Potrero, Guanacaste, tasty burgers are scantily clad and bitter. Much like the strippers here.
  4. Hot Dogs: they are pre-wrapped in plastic, so don’t make the same mistake we did. They taste like the anus of a pig. Except impossibly worse. 
  5. Pickles. They don’t crunch. They’re cucumbers that fail at vinegar drinking. And that, I cannot tolerate. 
Patty Melt From Maxwells (To Die For)
A mean patty melt from Maxwells

Strange Facts

Unbeknownst to you until this very second….

  • It is not uncommon for infants to suck back some coffee in a bottle shaped perfectly for tiny hands. The coffee’s so good here, you might as well plug up the children with it.
  • You can get home delivery from some fast food restaurants here like Burger King and McDonalds. This is the best idea I’ve heard since TV Hat!
  • Pop (soda to you Americanos) tastes DELICIOUS. They use sugar cane juice to flavour that sumptuous syrup, instead of sucralose, aspartame, fructose, or any of those other disgusting alternatives. Drink up without contracting cancer.
  • Lemons and limes do not grow up as fraternal twins except in lemon-lime beverages. Limes are a plenty here, but if you ask for lîmon, don’t expect a yellow citrusy fruit. You’ll get a lime. Lemons are yellow aliens to CR.
  • Don’t freak out when your milk is UHT and your eggs are sans cold. It is accepted that milk & eggs, and sometimes even meat is left at room temperature. I actually prefer the milk and eggs here to anything stone-cold comparables at home. 
  • Costa Ricans tend not to eat spicy food here so don’t expect chiles or hot peppers on your pancakes. Chilero is a staple on the tables. That’s about as hot as it gets, which is still too hot for my mommy and daddy who complain that butter is spicy.

Food I Missed

There’s a ton of other food that I didn’t cover and that’s because living in a retirement village does not allow me the frivolity of trying local cuisine. Okay, that’s a lie. It does. There are boats load of local perks on the menu, but then there are also things like jalapeño cheese fries which no red-blooded Canadian woman could refuse. I just need to recalibrate myself and get frisky with the comida typîcos. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Real Food. It’s All Here.

For your eating pleasure. 

Back to top.