If you’re thinking about a family vacation in and around Los Suenos, Costa Rica you should think about what the kids will eat on the trip. And you’re in luck! Costa Rican cuisine has lots of dishes that the little (and not so little) ones will love.
It’s no secret kids love pancakes, made fun with faces of fruit, and irresistible with some syrup. Handmade with corn, Costa Rican pancakes, or “chorreadas,” are sweet treats (though you can go sugar-free) that are made all the more delightful with a little “natilla” custard.
When most people hear the word “taco” they probably think of the Mexican versions. Well, Ticos do them quite differently, deep frying rolled tortillas stuffed with beef or chicken. The unique tacos are then topped with shredded cabbage and french fries, and drizzled with ketchup and mayonnaise, making them irresistible to kids and adults alike.
More fried delights kids won’t be able to resist, “patacones" are thick plantain chips served with dipping sauce, often a garlic or creamy avocado dip. But kids just love patacones with ketchup.
Again, Costa Rican cuisine may sound similar to Mexican fare, but a Tico tamale differs from those made by its neighbor to the north. Unlike corn-husk-wrapped tamales, Costa Rican tamales are made with banana leaves. Get the kids involved in kneading the corn dough and stuffing them with pork or chicken...the possibilities for filling tamales are almost endless.
Yes, “rice with chicken.” But not as basic as it sounds. Pretty much everyone who grew up in Costa Rica is familiar with the traditional dish that has shredded chicken, herbs, vegetables, and rice all cooked together to make a hearty meal the kids will devour.
Tortillas filled with Costa Rican-style potatoes are great on their own or served with a side of eggs for breakfast. They’re simple enough that even the pickiest of kids will eat them, seasoned with a few sprinkles of salt, paprika, garlic, and sugar. But they’re flavorful enough for all to enjoy.
Costa Rica’s answer to chicken soup, "sopa negra" is what they serve kids when they’re sick. But the black bean soup is perfect for any occasion, and a great way to get children eating beans. It is wonderful on its own, or add rice and an egg to make it a meal.
As a tropical country, Costa Rica produces a bounty of delicious fruits. Some you’re undoubtedly familiar with, such as strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Others lean to the exotic, like “maracuya” (passion fruit), “carambola” (star fruit), “guanabana,” and “pejibaye.” Found at local markets, supermarkets, and roadside stands, fruit can make quick and healthy snacks throughout the trip.
If you’ve got kids, you’ve made sandwiches. Lots of them. They’re easy, nutritious, and kids love ‘em. But traditional sandwiches in Costa Rica are a bit different. The bread, made from corn flour, is more like pastry (adding to the appeal for kids). Then you can fill it with what your kids like, meat, cheese, lettuce, etc. Costa Ricans like to top their arreglados off with some sweet mustard.
Yes, you’re probably going to want to keep the desserts to a minimum and avoid corralling sugar highs on the trip. But most kids will eventually cry for something sweet and when they do you might consider ordering up tres leches. As its name says, three kinds of milk, heavy cream, condensed and evaporated, layer on the flavors for a traditional dessert found all across Costa Rica.
Food is a big part of making your kid-friendly vacation a success, so bring your appetites and the whole gang will eat well on your trip to Costa Rica.