I lived there in the late 80s and visited several times in the early 90s. So, I am familiar with the typical foods, but I suspect that many more things are available there now than the last time I was there and that food safety is probably somewhat better.
Casado and gallo pinto are two forms of rice and beans that are typical in Costa Rica, especially as breakfast foods. There are also many dishes that involve chicken and sauce, especially with rice. Tropical fruit is plentiful as is good coffee. Traditional Tico coffee involves a sort of hanging sock on a wood-and-wire stand. The classic empanada is filled with queso fresco and deep fried--not a diet food by any means. Empanadas are made with white wheat flour. Corn humitas are a slightly healthier convenience food--kind of like a tamal.
Eggs are generally not refrigerated in Latin America. The same is true with pork and beef--they are often hung outside, in the tropical sun, for several weeks before they make it to market or the grocery store. If it smells even slightly off, do not eat it. If you are going to eat any of those things, make sure that they are well cooked and still very hot.
If you are on either coast, seafood is good and fresh. Ceviche is safe as long as the seafood is fresh that day--NEVER eat old ceviche. Fish tends to cook more thoroughly in the citrus juices than shrimp do, so fish ceviche is more reliable.
Ask for your drinks sin hielo and make sure that any juice you drink is either pure (like orange juice) or that it is mixed with agua purificada. Agua con gas is safer than plain water as you can rely on the seal if it is still carbonated. Obviously do not drink the tap water or use it to brush your teeth. Fruits that you can peel yourself (mandarinas, platano) are the best bet.
When I lived in Costa Rica, the milk supply was not at all safe. I am guessing that this is not true anymore. Milk comes in bags and may not be graded with the system that you are used to...I doubt that you will be able to find exactly 1%. I like to carry powdered milk when I travel--if you mix it with purified water, you know that it is safe--convenient too. Yogurt is good and safe pretty much everywhere in Latin America--it is often more of a drink than something you eat with a spoon though.
You can easily find jams, jellies and honey (miel de abeja). Peanut butter used to be something that had to be carried in from the US, but I am guessing you probably CAN find it in San Jose these days. I have seen peanut butter in Ecuador and Panama recently, so it is likely in Costa Rica now too.
It would be smart to stock up on food while you are in San Jose. Outside of the city, junk food is easy to find and Coca Cola is everywhere, but healthier stuff might be trickier to get. I always carry fruit, water and something with protein in case I get stuck.
Because so much of the economy is tourism-oriented, Costa Rica is one of the most convenient places to travel in Latin America, but it is not a good place to go if you want any kind of authentic cultural experience or language immersion. The jungle is beautiful though, and I love the Pacific coast where the selva comes right down to the edge of the ocean. It is gorgeous.
Dances: salsa (standard/LA), casino, rueda de casino, cumbia Colombiana, bachata, mambo, cha-cha-chá, merengue, reggaetón.
Currently learning: Mexican cumbia, danzón, Cuban rumba
Dances to Learn in the future: flamenco, tango Argentino, samba, belly dancing, bhangra, ballroom rumba
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