Gallo Pinto: The Typical Costa Rican Breakfast

(Introduction by Liz) Today we’re very pleased to introduce the newest member of the PocketCultures team, Nuria Villalobos from Costa Rica. Read her first post for PocketCultures here below.

Costa Rica is synonym of peace, happiness, nature and great food. The most typical dish for breakfast is called “Gallo Pinto”, literally translated ‘Spotted Rooster’. Its name doesn’t have anything to do with its ingredients though since they are basically white rice and black beans. Yes, you heard right: rice and beans for breakfast!

This national dish can be made in different ways but it is usually prepared with onions, red peppers, cilantro and the not-to-be-missed ingredient: Lizano Sauce. This 100% Costa Rican sauce was produced by the company Lizano in 1920 and although its recipe is secret, it is known to contain onion, carrot, cauliflower and cucumber. This sauce is neither sweet nor sour and it has a strong smell to spices. It is very tasty and therefore used in many Costa Rican dishes.

The gallo pinto has its origins in the Caribbean islands where the rice and beans combination was spread. This dish came along with the arrival of the African American workers coming from Jamaica to the province of Limón, Costa Rica. Its current name was not giving to it until workers from the Central Valley went to Limón to help build the railroad and therefore tasted this food. As a result, in the 1930’s the gallo pinto became popular in the rest of the country.

Although in different versions, this dish is also eaten in Nicaragua and other countries such as Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. In Costa Rica, the gallo pinto, known as rice and beans in Limón and prepared with coconut oil, can be accompanied with eggs, cheese, corn tortillas, sour cream and fried ripe plantains.

Make sure you get a taste of Costa Rica in your next visit by trying the famous gallo pinto!

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