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If I were to say to you: Gallo Pinto or Casado, does anything ring a bell? These are delicious recipes typically found in Costa Rica. What a pleasure it is to discover the dishes and flavours of a country you are visiting! Today I am delighted to share with you my main discoveries in Costa Rica, especially with flavour, while visiting the south of the Nicoya Peninsula and in Monteverde specifically.
In addition to being a typical and delicious dish, it is also affordable and will satisfy even a big appetite. A perfect trio! It is usually made up of rice, black beans, fried banana plantain, salad (which can be made up of radishes, tomatoes, green salad, cabbage…) and an animal protein (chicken, fish, beef or pork). You can also find avocado or guacamole as well as hearts of palm.
Casado means married in Spanish. Why this name? It’s not certain but it seems that this dish is the one that married women would prepare for their husbands. In any case, the marriage between these foods makes it a success.
Its name suggests that it contains chicken (gallo=chicken) but this is not the case. It is a simple dish consisting of rice mixed with black beans and Lizano sauce (a very popular sauce in Costa Rica, composed of spices, onion, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber and sugar).
Note that the variations are numerous depending on the region where you are but also according to different families. The origin of this dish is not clear as being either from Nicaragua or Costa Rica, it’s hard to be sure.
Gallo pinto is a very convenient dish to find as you can easily see it served it in small street-side stands as well as in luxury restaurants, not to mention that it is so popular that you can even find it at McDonald’s.
This word is not likely to tell you much and yet it is well worth discovering. The cascara, or coffee cherry infusion, was a very tasty discovery. This is a very rare beverage on our grocery shelves, but I have no doubt in its popularity in the near future. Cascara is nothing more than the wastes from coffee production. In the cherry fruit, only the coffee bean is used, and the skin, parchment and pulp are most often put in the compost. Which is a shame when you know that when it is dried and infused in hot water, it makes a delicious drink rich in antioxidants and with a slightly sweet taste that is very unique.
I made this discovery in Monteverde thanks to a gentleman named Christopher, who took over running his family’s farm and produces 100% organic coffee using the concepts of permaculture. I invite you to discover this enthusiast on Instagram.
I wanted to address a subject that really struck me on this trip. When I got off the plane, I could already see myself enjoying a juicy and sweet pineapple, but I became quickly disillusioned. The first night I spent in a small village near the sea. I went to the supermarket to look for Costa Rican food and there was not a fruit or a vegetable to be found but instead a wide selection of chips, biscuits and sodas of all kinds.
It is very easy to eat badly in Costa Rica, as elsewhere. Junk food and the various health problems that this type of diet causes is a real global problem.
For the record, according to the data from the World Health Organization in 2016, 26% of Costa Rica’s adult population were obese, including 21% of men and 30% of women. These numbers have doubled in less than 16 years and are far from improving.
We can never say it enough, it is more important than ever to reconnect with our feelings of hunger and satiety, to learn to eat better, and especially to spend time in our kitchens preparing healthy and tasty meals to share with our family or as individuals.