Costa Rican Cuisine

We’ve only eaten out a few times, and one of those times was for (disappointing) Chinese while two other times were (mediocre to okay) pizza. But we have had actual Costa Rican food three other times and while it has its good points, I think there’s a reason it’s not as popular worldwide as other Latin fare, like Cuban, Mexican, or even Salvadorean.

The big turn-off for us is the mayo. Actually not just mayo but ketchup also seems to be a major ingredient. An enchilada, with meat, black beans, tomatoe, and yes, mayo and ketchup drizzled on top. French fries (everything seems to come with fries, which, to be honest, feels like an awkward fit — what happened to beans and rice on the side?) also come with both mayo and ketchup drizzled on top. A burrito with, instead of salsa inside, some kind of mayo-based special sauce.

It’s been a little frustrating, as we’ve constantly found ourselves disappointed by menus which feature burgers, fried chicken (oh, there’s so much fried chicken), and then a small selection of Latin fare. Then, even after we order Latin dishes, it comes with a burger-type “special sauce”.

The result is a sickly sweetness and creaminess to things that are supposed to be savoury and spicy. Of course I recognize there is a degree of cultural bias here. I can’t dictate what food is supposed to taste like. It’s all about what you’re used to. Obviously Costa Ricans like their food this way, and other countries, like Chile, have similar cultural traditions.

But it does make me suspect there has been a major US cultural invasion on the food. I wish we could go back in time to Costa Rica 25 years ago to figure out how much of what we’ve been eating is traditional and how much of it is part of a more recent trend to fast food.

Whatever the answer, we know what we like, so we’ll have to request no mayo next time we order.

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