The southern Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica is a big melting pot of traditions and cultures. It is the heart and soul of the country’s Afro-Caribbean community, as well as home to indigenous populations of Bribrí, Carib, Miskito and Cabécar. There are descendants of Spanish conquistadors, North Americans who worked for United Fruit Company during the banana boom, and Chinese laborers who were brought to Costa Rica in the 1870s to work on the railroad along with the Jamaicans.
They mixed languages, customs and cuisine. In addition to Spanish, the main language spoken in Caribbean Costa Rica is Patois, a Creole blend of Jamaican English, West African dialects, French, Spanish and lots of local slang. Musical preferences are reggae and calypso. And the cuisine is very uniquely Costa Rican Caribbean. Coconut milk features in many dishes, along with ginger, curry, allspice, cinnamon, chili pepper and other strong spices brought to the Caribbean by spice traders.
Rice and Beans: Not to be confused with gallo pinto, or the traditional white rice and black beans that are served everywhere else in Costa Rica; Caribbean Rice and Beans is a mixture of white rice, red beans and coconut. It is usually served with fresh fish, chicken, pork or beef.
Rondón: This seafood stew is named from the English word “run-down” – as in whatever the cook could “run down” or find that day to mix into the soup. Rondón is made with whatever seafood is available, tubers like sweet potato, cassava, taro and potatoes, plantains and coconut milk with spices.
Agua de sapo: Literally meaning “toad water” (however, no toads are involved), it is a refreshing lemonade made with brown sugar, lime and ginger.
Pan Bon: Dark bread made with flour, dried fruit, walnuts, butter, egg whites, vanilla, hibiscus seeds, honey and sugar.
Plantintah: A pastry made with ripe plantains
Coconut-encrusted shrimp: Covered in crunchy coconut and fried, this is the best way to eat big, fresh Jumbo shrimp or fresh lobster.
You can enjoy Costa Rica Caribbean cuisine and creative international dishes at the elegant Le Numu Restaurant & Bar at Hotel Le Caméléon in Playa Cocles. Just past Puerto Viejo, Playa Cocles is one of the prettiest beaches on the southern Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. The upscale Costa Rica boutique hotel features ultra-chic rooms, beautiful tropical architecture, lush jungle gardens and the fantastic beach club, La Sula Sea Lounge.
Article by Shannon Farley