One of the best ways retirees can immerse themselves in Costa Rica’s culture and get the most out of the country is to understand its traditions. Costa Rica’s typical food dishes play a large role in its culture and traditions.
Probably the first introduction retirees and others have to the country’s cuisine is a dish called gallo pinto. Gallo pinto means spotted rooster in Spanish and the dish probably got its name because the white rice and black beans resemble some varieties of roosters with spots. The dish is mainly served for breakfast and in addition to rice and beans contains cilantro, onions, salt and Salsa Lizano to give it added flavour.
Regarding the latter, Salsa Lizano is a 100 percent Costa Rican condiment made from fresh vegetables and natural condiments that was developed in 1920 when a Costa Rican by the name of Lizano manufactured this tasty new sauce in his home in Costa Rica. Lizano Sauce was a result of an exquisite blend of vegetables and natural condiments which señor Lizano selected to create the sauce’s unique taste and aroma. Lizano Sauce contains no artificial flavorings or colorings. The exact recipe for Lizano Sauce is kept secret but its ingredients include water, vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, cumin, mustard, turmeric and fresh vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower and onion. It is light brown in color and somewhat thin in consistency with a sweet, mildly spicy favor lent to it by the black pepper and cumin. Because of its widespread popularity you may find it in some stores in the United States.
Another Costa Rican food tradition is its famous casado. A casado is a combination plate of meat, fish or chicken which may be combined with salad, white rice, minced vegetables like chayote and plantains. Similar dishes exist in other Latin American countries but they have different names.
Casados are very nutritiously balanced since they contain a combination of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and fruit. Beans are a very important ingredient since a casado without frijoles is not considered to be a casado.
The history of the popularity of the casado goes back to the 1960s when a large number of Costa Ricans began to work in the San José area. Many of the ticos yearned to have a home-style meal for lunch, so they looked for sodas and restaurants that served home cooking. Marjorie Ross, who is an expert in culinary anthropology, says the dish casado got its name because many workers asked the proprietors of a local sodas to prepare meals like the ones married men were served at home.
Since the word “casado” refers to a married man, the name was applied to this plate of assorted typical foods like the ones I mention above. Cazado, which sounds the same, can also refer to any combination of things like food. Perhaps that is where the name for the dish really came from.