by Imani Wright | ICDS Costa Rica, Spring 2020
Although it is extremely difficult to choose one unforgettable meal, I would have to narrow my options to gallo pinto or a casado. A casado is a traditional Costa Rican dish that typically consists of tortilla, your choice of protein, white rice, beans, ripe plantains, and a side salad. A casado also came with a thick slice of fried white cheese which I usually left to the side because it did not contribute to the meal as I would have liked it to. The first time I tried this dish was actually outside of my homestay. My friends and I would frequent Aroma y Sabor, a restaurant near our campus where we purchased lunch, studied, and occasionally had class! Whenever my classmates and I went on a weekend trip outside of our host city, we ordered a casado at almost every lunch or dinner. No matter what was on the menu, we knew we could never go wrong with this dish. Oftentimes it was, both, the most delicious, filling, and inexpensive meal on the menu. I remember one day in our program office, we were discussing the beauty of a good casado, and we learned that it translates to “married man” in English because it is a dish that married men would eat at home.
Similar to the components of a casado, gallo pinto usually includes toast or tortilla, rice and beans, eggs, a thick slice of fried cheese, and ripe plantains. On any given menu, gallo pinto would be listed as desayuno típico for obvious reasons. It was everyone’s go-to breakfast! I would eat gallo pinto whenever it was available. Even if I was not very hungry, the smell of gallo pinto alone would trigger an appetite. This dish was truly an unexpected fan favorite. Although I did not have gallo pinto every morning in my homestay, ULatina’s food court had multiple eateries where my friends and I could satisfy our need for the traditional dish in between classes. I can wholeheartedly say that gallo pinto brought my study abroad group together because despite any dietary restrictions, we could all bond over a large plate of gallo pinto. I cannot wait to have an opportunity to visit Costa Rica again soon to have another taste of a casado and gallo pinto.