Costa Ricans pursue La Pura Vida, the pure life, which to them is the beautiful essence of life as in, "What a delicious meal, it's Pura Vida."
But this attitude goes deeper than simple pleasures. It's a general philosophy of nonaggression that leads to a very peaceful lifestyle. Quedar bien, staying on ones good side, is very important to them, which leads them to avoid confrontation if at all possible. This cultural skill is best expressed in the way Óscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica, was instrumental in negotiating peace in neighboring Nicaragua, for which he won a Nobel Peace Prize.
Don't worry. You don't have to win a Nobel Prize to enjoy La Pura Vida. Just relax, get together with family or friends, and enjoy these great Costa Rican recipes.
Points of Interest
The geography of Costa Rica provides ideal growing zones for everything from temperate crops such as apples, peas, asparagus, and strawberries to tropical treasures, such as cacao (chocolate), coffee, vanilla, nuts, and fruits of every description.
Beans and rice is the mainstay of Costa Rica, as is the national dish, gallo pinto (meaning "spotted rooster"), which was brought to the country by Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica. It is seasoned with coriander and onion and often served for breakfast or lunch.
Seafood is plentiful with coastlines on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, but most of the catch is exported, making for higher prices. Beef is less expensive since much of Costa Rica's rain forest has been converted to pasture for raising cattle.
Costa Ricans are experts at preparing Spanish empanadas, sweet or savory pastry turnovers are stuffed with a variety of fillings and baked. Empanadas de Pollo al Horno, is a delectable version with a creamy, cheesy chicken filling.
Fruits are the stars of Costa Rican produce. Pejibayes resemble tiny orange coconuts that are boiled and scooped from their shells. Marañón, the fruit of the cashew tree, has glossy orange or yellow skin and can be used to make refrescos, fruit drinks.
Drinks made with grains are common refreshers in Costa Rica. There is horchata (cinnamon-flavored cornmeal or rice drink), pinolillo (cornmeal cocoa) and Resbaladera, a chilled barley-rice milk beverage infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and vanilla.
Costa Ricans love cake for dessert. Torta chilena is a multi-layered cake filled with dulce de leche and Queque Seco or pound cake is likely described as "dry" since tres leches cake is extremely moist in comparison. Puddings are also a favorite treat. Rich pineapple bread pudding, Pudín de Piña, is laced with pineapple, coconut, and macadamia nuts and served with a warm, buttery rum sauce.