A window to the soul - Costa Rica

Anna Michnik, Plus3 Costa Rica'22

For me, food has always provided a way to immerse myself in a culture and truly experience the authenticity of the traditional cuisine. I think for a lot of people it is quite literally “the window to the soul,” as many people express themselves through cooking. During these past two weeks in Costa Rica, we always ate out since we stayed in hotels and were not really given the accommodations to cook our own meals. However, eating out in Costa Rica is very similar to eating in someone’s home. Many of their restaurants are called “Sodas” and they provide home-cooked meals made from their family’s recipes. We often tried to frequent more authentic restaurants rather than tourist traps because we wanted to experience the true cuisine. 

During the time we spent there, I tried many new and flavorful foods and dishes that I have never tried before. For instance, plantains are very popular and plentiful in Costa Rica and the locals have come up with at least five different ways of cooking and serving them. Each traditional Costa Rican dish always comes with plantains. Personally, they are not my favorite, but I did enjoy them when a local family cooked them as “Patacones” for us. Beans and rice are also very popular in their traditional cuisine and are frequently served in every meal. I noticed that the dishes and foods that were the most popular in the culture were the foods that they grow a lot of. Beans and plantains are cheap and easy to grow so that is the reason they are so plentiful there.

While I was there, I definitely adapted more to their eating styles by eating a lot more rice and beans and less protein with every meal. I also ate a lot more fruit as it is very plentiful and delicious there. I found that it was easier to adapt to their food than going out of my way to search for the food that I usually eat. Plus, since I was in a different country, I challenged myself to step out of my comfort zone and try new things that I normally would not have access to. Overall, I enjoyed the cuisine that Costa Rica is proud of and it was definitely a very different experience than enjoying dinner in the U.S.. I would love to return and visit more Caribbean locations and taste their amazing Caribbean-inspired cuisine as well.