Casado in Costa Rica, the best traditional meal

When you go on the tours by Epic Adventures Costa Rica, you will notice that we love our Costa Rican traditional cuisine. And well, why not? Fresh ingredients, great combinations, healthy options, and delicious results. And probably the one you will hear the most is the “Casado”

Casado is one of the most popular and traditional meals of Costa Rica. It is an eclectic combination of taste, that always includes rice, beans, salad, plantains, chopped vegetables (Picadillo),  and every now and then, it may include spaguetti, or egg. And a complimentary piece of meat, may it be beef, fish, chicken or pork.

Although its origins go back to the colonial days, it is still the most common dish eaten in all Costa Rica every day; its name is estimated to have arisen in the second half of the 20th century.

In those distant years, with the increase in the amount of population inhabited by San Jose – numerous workers who joined the shops, and institutions of the city – the demand for an economical dish for lunch in the middle of the working day grew. This social phenomenon demanded the emergence of a nutritious and balanced menu for workers to stay energetic and in good shape throughout the day. In this way, the San Jose restaurants invented what we now know as “casado” and there are several hypotheses about the appearance of this name.

One of them states that during lunchtime at the soda (typical Costa Rican restaurant), workers asked for more food from the chefs, as if they were “casado” men.

Another theory suggests that due to the rise of commercial activity in the capital, restaurants offered a well-complete dish that would make the workers feel as if they were in their own home, and eat to a large extent, like every “casado” person. The third version on the etymology of this typical menu of Tica gastronomy assumes that its title is due to the fact that the ingredients are “married” with rice, for the good portion it carries of this ingredient.

Another idea argues that being composed by small portions of different culinary preparations, what the woman seeks, in a new marriage, is to prepare this dish to gift the “casado” with all that he knows how to cook and so know which of all those meals she likes and which do not.

Easy and Affordable

In Costa Rica, it can be said that it is a dish that covers all ages, genders and social classes. The “casado” is easy to prepare, affordable and can be adapted to the use of multiple ingredients on different occasions. It always contains rice and beans (black or red), but the meat can be beef, chicken,, pork or fish, and it is usually accompanied with salads (papa or yuca and various types of vegetables), In addition, it is usually added some tortilla or white bread.

It is usual to include fresh cheese and, in some cases, some remaining cheese from another meal. All this variety in its content is due to the influences of the different cultures that inhabited these lands throughout history: Spanish, Italian, Aboriginal and African peoples.

Rice was introduced by the Spaniards, beans were widely consumed by indigenous people and also by Africans, while the pasta is the contribution of the Italian community, the fried banana – commonly used – comes from the Afroantillan cuisine and the picadillos are a derivative of the Andalusian cuisine.

Due to the sense of satiety it produces, its strong contribution of essential nutrients for a balanced diet and the variety of flavors it contains, it is a constant choice in most households in the country, both for lunch and dinner. Without a doubt, “casado” is a classic that does not lose its validity.

Why the name?

Why it is called “Casado” is still a mystery, although there are several versions. The strongest is that the “sodas” (typical Costa Rican restaurant), prepared well complete and abundant dishes so that the workers who came to the capital to work, felt like at home.

Another version is that the dish can be put everything that can be combined or “casado” with rice, so it can go with various types of meats or salads.

What does a “casado” have

The traditional contents are 3 or 4 tablespoons of rice, black or red beans, chopsticks, salads, bananas and a serving of meat. Salads can bring vegetables such as broccoli, coliflor, yuca or papaya. Or it can be a salad with “chicken peak” that comes to be a mixture of tomato, onion and lemon juice.

In addition, the “casado” can include pasta: from pasta to cinnamon or cold salad of tuna with mayonnaise.   The casado is a mestizo dish, which represents the indigenous, African and European union, the 3 great gastronomic and cultural influences of Costa Rica.

It integrates the rice brought by the Spaniards, the beans consumed by the Indians and Africans; the pasta provided by the Italians and the picadillos inspired by the Spanish guisos.

Nutritious Lunch

With all these influences, our lunch is ideal for regaining energy after a rainforest hike or any other adventure.  When the hunger crushes, your food will be ready with the best raw materials on the market, fresh ingredients and specially selected for you to enjoy a meal prepared by Costa Rican hands entirely.

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