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Cuisine of Costa Rica

Costa Rican cuisine is known for being tasty, yet fairly bland, with high reliance on fresh fruits and vegetables. The main staple consists of rice and black beans, which, in many households is eaten at all three meals during the day.

For breakfast, the traditional national dish of Costa Rica is known as gallo pinto and consists of rice, beans (usually black though sometimes red are used), cilantro and onion mixed together and sometimes fried a little. A locally-produced sauce called Salsa Lizano (also known as salsa inglesa) is often used to add a light hint of spice to the dish. Sour cream is sometimes added to the mix for variation. The traditional breakfast drink (besides coffee, of course) is called agua dulce (sweet water) and is made from brown sugar. The brown sugar is melted and formed into conical sections with the top cut off. Then some of this "dulce" is scraped off and melted into boiling water to make the sweet "agua dulce."

For lunch, the traditional national dish is called a casado and again consists of rice and beans though this time they are served side-by-side instead of mixed. There will generally be some type of meat (carne asada, fish or chicken) and a salad to round out the dish. There may also be some extras like fried plantains or a piece of white cheese in accompaniment. The traditional drinks are called refrescos and consist of liquified fruits diluted in either water or milk and sweetened to taste. They come in many varieties, some of which are available in the US such as melon, black berry, strawberry and passion fruit. Some varieties not available in the US are guanabana and cas.

Fresh vegetables are a primary ingredient in most main dishes, and members of the squash family are particularly common. These include varieties such as zucchini and others not available in the United States, such as zapallo, chayote, and ayote. Potato, onion, and red pepper are other common ingredients.

Coffee, banana, and onion are the three main agricultural exports of the country and also form part of the local cuisine. Coffee is usually served at breakfast and during traditional coffee breaks in the afternoon, usually around 3:00pm.

Plantain is another commonly used fruit and can be served in a variety of ways, including fried in butter, unripe (verde), and in honey or a sugar-based sauce. Sweetcorn dishes are common traditional meals like pozole (corn soup), chorreadas (corn pancakes), etc.

Other Costa Rican food staples include corn tortillas, white cheese and picadillos. Tortillas are used to accompany most meals and Ticos will often fill their tortillas with whatever they are eating and eat it in the form of a gallo. White cheese is non-processed cheese that if made by adding salt to milk in production. Picadillos are meat and vegetable combinations where one or more vegetables are diced, mixed with beef and garnished with spices. Common vegetables are potatoes, green beans, squash, ayote, chayote and arracache. Often time picadillos are eaten in the form of gallos.