Whether you’re spending a month, a semester or a year; a key part of the experience is “comida tica”. Comida tica refers to all food associated with Costa Rica; any food cooked with a twist specific to Costa Rica can also be referred to as comida tica. Comida tica is typically healthy and nutritious. It usually has carbohydrates, protein, vegetables, spices, fruits (often times) all in one meal and water is always within reach. A typical example of comida tica is gallo pinto.

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Gallo pinto is the national dish for Costarricense. Just like food from other parts of Latin America, it is made of basically rice and beans but just rice and beans will not be gallo pinto. As you will come to learn, just rice and beans will be called “rice n beans” or simply “arroz y frijoles”. The pinto is set apart with its burst of flavors achieved by including different kinds of vegetables in the meal including cilantro.

Other aspects of nutrition tica to take note of include breakfast and dinner with host families. They are usually meals with at least three or more (situation dependent) components. This means, you get a meal, salad, fruit, homemade fresh juice and so on in personalized menus.

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While you’re not home enjoying breakfast and dinner, the endless possibilities for lunch makes things even more exciting. During lunch, you could be having a sandwich from the panaderia, a full on meal at a soda or a hamburgesa from Don Ro. Even with lunch, comida tica remains healthy. You know this because an empanada goes from having just pineapple in it to a full on meat and vegetables ensemble in a few steps right outside the doors of our dear Veritas. Not to mention the readily available juice squeezed at request or your very own coconut before that elective class (very relatable).

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While fruits are very important to nutrition tica, coming to a tropical country, fruits should already be on your bucket list. Depending on your detecting skills while buying, every fruit tastes great. Do not however ignore the fact that certain ones are better when juiced (you will realize this right after you try cas for the first time.)

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Whether you are left with a watery mouth or heavy anticipation, remember to bring your open mind with you as depending on where you’re from, the food could be a huge culture shock {or not}. If you need a break from being shocked or learning the tica approach to nutrition, you can always indulge in some cheesy goodness at the pizzerias next to Universidad Veritas or down the street or at any of the other international chains across the city. But right after you get through it, enjoy Costa Rica and all the gallo pinto it brings.

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