Shelby F. studied abroad for five weeks during the summer in San Jose, Costa Rica. She is a junior Elementary Education major with minors in Reading and Spanish Language Studies. During her five weeks in Costa Rica she was able to try different, traditional foods that are popular in the country. She hopes to inspire you to try these foods!
One of the most exciting parts of a foreign country and its culture is the food! It’s new, it’s interesting, and (hopefully) it’s delicious! While I studied abroad at Universidad Veritas in Costa Rica I experienced many new foods.
Traditional, everyday foods in Costa Rica include vegetables, fruit, gallo pinto, and plantains. Gallo Pinto is just a fancy Costa Rican way of saying: rice and beans. While in Costa Rica I ate gallo pinto with almost every meal, including breakfast. Plantains were also very popular. They are fruit very similar to a banana, but they are much larger and starchier. They were often fried in a pan to make them sweet. Platano maduro, or green plantains, were mashed together like thick chips and fried to make patacones, which could then be dipped in salsa, pico de gallo, or guacamole.
My host family provided breakfast for me every day. We had ham and cheese croissant sandwiches, omelet-style eggs, toast, gallo pinto (of course!), pancakes, french toast, LOTS of fruit, yogurt, cereal, or a combination of those mentioned. Some of the foods were familiar, but they were all different from home. While traveling we ate similar foods: eggs, chorizo (a type of sausage), platano maduro, toast or pastries, and often coffee. Pastries were one of my favorite foods while abroad. Often my friends and I would walk to a panaderia (bakery) to buy a croissant covered in chocolate chips or sugar for an afternoon snack.
The Universidad Veritas campus has three options for on-campus meals at lunch. Two were cafes that offered salads, gallo pinto, a meat option, platano maduro, and a variety of sides. Meals changed every day, and we got to try a variety of plates. Another option: a booth selling empanadas, hot dogs, hamburgers, burritos, and more in a Costa Rican style. There were also many restaurants within walking distance of campus. My favorite was Las Lenitas, a Mexican/Costa Rican restaurant. I also enjoyed others that served pizza, sandwiches, and other Costa Rican meals.
For dinner, our host family cooked traditional meals for us. We ate lots of vegetables, gallo pinto, and refried beans. Some of the more interesting vegetables and fruits we ate regularly were heart of palm, yucca, mamon chino, mango, guayaba, papaya, and others. Snack foods that I purchased, and that were common included plantain chips, carjetas, and some American snacks like Doritos, Pringles, and generic Oreos. My favorite meal cooked by my host family was Aztec soup. It was almost like tomato soup with shredded chicken, chunks of cheese, tortilla chips, beans, avocado chunks, and corn.
It was an amazing trip full of great experiences and delicious food!
Shelby took classes at one of our partner universities, Universidad Veritas, for five weeks from early July to early August. Interested in trying these different foods in Costa Rica or perhaps another Central American country? Schedule an appointment on our website with a Study Abroad Advisor in order to receive your study abroad application. Summer applications are being accepted now!