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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Perhaps my most important advice: Sodas, Casados, and Batidos

By Bruce

Yup, that's right, regardless of all the information that I and the other contributors have posted on this site, there's really one piece of advice that I'm about to share with you that will, more than any other, alter your experience in Costa Rica. Now regardless of what you're making per month, you'll likely need to conserve cash when possible (especially if you're going to be traveling often), and the best way to do so is by frequenting Sodas. "Soda" is really just another name for extremely inexpensive (yet ofter quite good) typical Costa Rican food. Now some are sub-standard, but others are very very good, you can get very large portions, and you can very easily stuff your face for less than $5 (2,500 colones).

Now once you're in the soda (or really most other restaurants), the best way to eat well and eat a lot without spending too much plata, is to order a "casado". Directly translated this means "marriage" and I guess in some ways it represents a "marriage" of a few basic foods. Basically the casado consists of a meat of your choice (chicken, pork chop, fish, or steak) with sides of salad (a couple pieces of lettuce and a tomato slice), white rice, black beans, fried plantains, and usually one or two other sides such as pasta salad or something similar. (see picture, that's a pork chop with grilled onions, plantain, mixed beans and rice, and cabage salad with a blackberry Batido to drink) Now this is a lot of food, and it's generally all very tasty, and really the most you should ever pay for a casado is $5 (but normally you will find them between 1,500 colones ($3) and 2,000 colones ($4)). Oh, and often a sweet fresh fruit drink is included.

Finally, I present you with the "batido." Or just a frozen or cold blended fresh fruit drink (as mentioned above). These generally come blended with water or milk. Milk often costs more, and in my opinion, is far inferior to the water batidos. If I'm going to get a cold fruit drink, I'm looking for something refreshing, and there's just something less than refreshing about a milk based drink on a hot day. But I'll let you make that decision for yourself.

Basically, I survived on all of this while traveling. Because you are forced to eat out when you travel, this is the best way to eat well and conserve cash for things that matter. Like beer.