â€œThe right way to make Gallo Pinto,â€ Roberto the cab driver informs me in flawless English, â€œis with yesterdayâ€™s beans and rice.â€ He pauses, then adds â€œAnd you must add Salsa Lizano.â€
In the short time Iâ€™ve been in Costa Rica, Iâ€™ve grown obsessed with Gallo Pinto, the traditional Costa Rican breakfast food, and am learning to duplicate it at home.
When I ask other locals, â€œticosâ€, about their Gallo Pinto recipes, each echoes Robertoâ€™s sentiments: Fry onions and peppers in oil, add the beans and rice leftover from yesterdayâ€™s meals along with some cilantro, heat through and top with Salsa Lizano, a salty Costa Rican vegetable-based condiment.
Iâ€™ve been enjoying Gallo Pinto for breakfast every morning, alongside large plates of the sweetest tropical fruits Iâ€™ve ever tasted: pineapple, papaya, mango. And while Iâ€™m equally captivated by another breakfast option widely available in Costa Rica and not the US, Choco Zucaritas (Chocolate Frosted Flakes), thereâ€™s no denying that the taste of traditional Gallo Pinto is what I will be longing for after Iâ€™ve returned home.
Jennifer Rhodes is a writer and teacher whose big mouth and complete absence of sound judgment make her a liability in most professional and social situations.