The Foods of Costa Rica & Nicaragua- by Mackenzie Sherrill. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
After traveling this past summer to both Costa Rica and Nicaragua for a medical service trip, one aspect of the Central American culture that was fascinating to experience was the food. As a result of spending approximately one week in each country, I was able to get a good idea of the types of food the people ate on a daily basis, and also how food can play such an important role in bringing people together.
No matter where I ate throughout the trip, whether it was at a restaurant, hotel, or in someone’s home, rice and beans were always present in each meal I was served. This was very interesting to me because in the United States of America, I don’t believe we have certain food items that are found in almost every meal, similar to how rice and beans are in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. After speaking to some of the local people through our translators, I found out that rice and beans are quite common in the diets of Central American people because of how inexpensive they are and also due to their high abundance in these locations. I learned that most families in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua serve rice and beans with breakfast, lunch, and dinner and if they are fortunate enough, they will serve it alongside some type of meat. It was humbling for me to see how content the people in these countries were with eating only two food items throughout most of their lives, when in the states, we have so much variety in our diets and the foods we eat.
Another thing I noticed about the food in Costa Rica and Nicaragua was how it was used as a sign of respect and hospitality towards others. After staying in a family’s home in Nicaragua, it was very evident that in order to make you feel welcome in their homes, the families would feed you large amounts of food. When offered food, it was only polite that we accepted their invitation, even if that meant eating when you were not hungry. Although using food as a means to welcome a guest into a home is somewhat common in the United States, it was different in these countries in that people rarely turn down the offer.
After returning home from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, I was quite relieved when I got a break from eating rice and beans, even though I enjoyed eating it while I was abroad. I am glad I had the opportunity to experience a different culture’s diet, and to see how food can not only be important in nourishing your body, but also in connecting people from all over the world.
Mackenzie Sherrill serves as social media editor for The North Star Reports.
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