One of the greatest adventures of any family vacation is trying out the food of the region. Educating yourself a bit before travelling will help make this part of the visit something to plan for and look forward to. If your children are older, you could consider borrowing some cookbooks from your local library and actually cooking up some authentic food of your destination. That way, when you eat the real thing, you can compare your culinary skills to those of the locals.
Like most countries, the food in Costa Rica is influenced by several cultures. European, South American and even some African influences can be found depending on the region to which you are travelling.
Food and dining is an important part of the social make up of Costa Rica. It is considered an important time to meet and chat with family and friends. Perhaps this explains why appetizers play a very important role at every meal and are often provided free with meals. Some of the most common appetizers include salads, often made with seafood or beans, empanadas and tamales. Salads are served with most meals and are generally made of cabbage, tomatoes, peppers and onions dressed with lemon juice and herbs.
Beans, particularly kidney beans are a favourite among Costa Ricans and are included in many of the salads, soups and main dishes of the region. They are often combined with rice, beef and chicken to create very hearty and healthy dishes. If your family enjoys stews and pots of thick nourishing chilli, they will most likely enjoy these dishes of Costa Rica. Some of the most common soups include cod soup, bean soup, meatball soup and tortilla soup.
One of the most interesting foods to enjoy in Costa Rica is Yucca. It is used there much like potatoes are used here. The kids are sure to enjoy Yucca chips, Yucca fries and even mashed Yucca with gravy to accompany a chicken dinner!
Your Costa Rica vacation doesn’t have to be without a sweet indulgence or two, either. Let the kids try chewing on a piece of sugar cane for a new twist on dessert, and many varieties of sweet thick native fruit juices are readily available.
A somewhat lesser known fact that can be interesting to the grownups on vacation is that Costa Rica also produces some of the world’s most flavourful coffees. So now that you know, you can sit back and relax after a hearty local meal with a cup of rich aromatic java!
As a matter of fact, it looks like you can always find Costa Rican sipping coffee around you. They just love it. And if you’re a coffee lover yourself, you’ll feel like you’re in paradise here. But let me give you a warning: after trying the “real deal”, you’ll never be happy at a Starbucks again.
Most important of all, be adventurous and be willing to try something new. You may just discover a new favourite dish that you’ll continue to make even after your vacation is over!
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