Costa Rican food is a fusion cuisine. It combines elements of culinary traditions from Africa, Italy, France, China, and Spain, flavored by traditional grains (rice, corn, and beans), roots (cassava, taro roots, sweet potatoes), spices (coriander, garlic, annatto, saffron, parsley, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, salt, and pepper), oils (olive oil, vegetable oil, and lard), sauces (Lizano, Soy, and Worcestershire), fresh fruit, and vegetables. The food is mild to slightly seasoned.
In San Jose, many fine restaurants serve the gamut of international cuisines at reasonable prices. And though culinary excellence in general declines with distance from the capital city, a growing number of hoteliers and gourmet chefs are opening restaurants worthy of note in even the most secluded backwaters. Take the Caribbean coast, for example, where the local cuisine reflects its Jamaican heritage with mouthwatering specialties such as ackee and codfish (ackee is a small, pink-skinned fruit tasting like scrambled eggs), johnnycakes, curried goat, curried shrimp, and pepper pot soup, with its subtle, lingering flame.
The most common dishes that reflect the rural culture and are served in typical food restaurants are Gallo Pinto (Spotted Rooster) and Casados (Married.) Gallo Pinto consists of rice and beans seasoned with coriander, onions and Worcestershire sauce usually served for breakfast with scramble or fried eggs and a cup of Agua Dulce (pure sugar cane diluted in hot water) or coffee. Casado consists of white rice, black or red beans served with pork, steak, or chicken, a small portion of cabbage/lettuce & tomato salad, and fried plantains. All is served in one dish for lunch or dinner with a refreshment or coffee.