Aero: Annie Livingston – Costa Rica 2015 – Food and Dining


Aero: Annie Livingston – Costa Rica 2015 – Food and Dining
Creative Commons Image via The LEAF Project

Aero: Annie Livingston – Costa Rica 2015 – Food and Dining


Annie Livingston

I really love food and trying new foods, so I was excited to see what the food was like in Costa Rica. I had heard by some people that it mostly consists of chicken, beans and rice, and although that definitely did count for a lot of meals and are popular foods in the culture, I was glad to discover that there is a wide variety of different foods to be tasted throughout the country.

Our host family usually cooked us breakfast and dinner.  Meal times at home were usually pretty flexible, as they are in my house. Breakfast was whenever we were all awake (usually around 7:30) and dinner was whenever we were home and were hungry (usually around 7.)

For breakfast there we sometimes had gallo pinto, which is a typical Costa Rican breakfast of rice and beans with a type of sauce that turns the rice a brown color. We also often had empanadas with beans, beans and cheese, just cheese, or ham and cheese. There was also usually toast available with guava or grape jelly, and eggs. Sometimes we had little ham and cheese sandwiches, and occasionally cereal or Costa Rican French toast, which I never did figure out what the difference was between that and French toast here. It was good, anyways.

For dinner in our host family home we often had rice dishes with chopped up ham and vegetables, empanadas, spaghetti, and many other wonderful foods. On the side we sometimes had fried plantain, which was served a bit like the way I eat squash here, baked with butter and sugar on top. It was good, but I could usually only eat one, as it was very sweet!

To drink at both meals, we usually had a milkshake type drink that was either chocolate or strawberry, and we usually had the choice of water as well.


ML@FLCC Costa Rica
2015 Flickr Gallery

We also had pizza for dinner several times.  Pepperoni is not very common in Costa Rica, therefore ham and cheese pizza seemed to be the most popular type instead. When we went out to a pizza restaurant with our host family, we ordered a pizza and Mayra and Pablo and their friends ordered a pizza. Ours came fine, but their first pizza came and it was burnt to a crisp. They ordered a new pizza, and when this one came, the dough was completely raw. We all laughed about that experience.

We also discovered a pizza place by the park called “Space Pizza” which served the biggest slices of pizza I had ever seen in my life, and they were really good. They also had calzones there which were supposed to be “for three people” and we were going to get one, but ran out of time.

We usually had lunch at a restaurant while we were out on our excursions, and I got to try out many, many different types of restaurants. A very popular dish in many places was the cascado, which was a choice of meat (chicken, beef, pork, or fish) that came with rice, salad, and beans on the side. Portion sizes at restaurants varied from a chicken sandwich the size of my fist to a fish taco about the length of my arm—and everything in between. It was different everywhere.

When we visited the local public market, they had all kinds of interesting fruits, vegetables, and drinks there, and it was wonderful that many things had free samples set out. I tried some papaya, guanavana, watermelon, a weird sugary drink, and strawberries. It was cool to try foods that you can’t get fresh back here in New York, and some of them tasted really different! Bananas were really good—they were so much sweeter and had more flavor. On the outside, they had several brown spots and didn’t look all that appealing, so I wasn’t sure about them at first, but they were amazing. I guess I was used to the pristine bananas that they sell in the grocery stores here. Strawberries were also really sweet and flavorful.

Grocery stores were fun to visit, as they had some interesting foods that I have never seen here in New York, including several really good fruit juices and marshmallows, which were colorful, pink, blue, and yellow. One day Pablo gave us marshmallows after dinner, and he took out what was probably some tool he used to weld his cars back together, and toasted them for us! When we went up to the ranch we also ate plain marshmallows out of the bag for dessert. They also sold some interesting types of candy. My favorites were the little caramels that had chocolate in the center.

Ice cream was wonderful in Costa Rica. Pops was a chain ice cream store that could be found in just about every town we visited. I had chocolate and mango ice cream; and it was very thick and creamy. The servings of ice cream were smaller than they are usually are here, but I could only eat a small amount anyways as it was so rich.

I really enjoyed much of the food that I ate in Costa Rica, and am planning on learning how to make empanadas myself, so that I can share a little bit of Costa Rica with everyone here at home. It will probably take a long time to get as good at making them as Mayra is, but I have to start somewhere!

Annie Livingston
LEAF Contributor