Healthy and Sustainable Gastronomy: PURA VIDA!!!

Our country is already world renowned as a sustainable destination, so it’s only natural that our cuisine be sustainable and healthy, in keeping with the uniquely Costa Rican expression our visitors find so appealing: Pura vida! (“pure life”)

The National Plan for Sustainable and Healthy Gastronomy (PNGCSS, for its name in Spanish) is therefore an exceptional tool to give new value added to our tourism product through gastronomy.

While we already have highly varied cuisine whose quality is constantly improving, Costa Rican gastronomy is not yet a tourism product.

We’re taking action to make this happen by raising awareness, revitalizing, innovating, marketing, globalizing …

We need to incorporate the ingredients nature bestows us as one of 12 megadiverse places on the planet, incorporating indigenous cooking and invigorating the “traditional” with a contemporary perspective of full revitalization. We have fruits and plants that have long been part of our gastronomical tradition or even naturalized in the Costa Rican diet, such as tacacos, flor de itabo, Chicazquil, zorrillo, flor del poro, cas, and pejibaye (peach plum fruit). In addition, we have realized, and it is increasingly clear, that what is distinctive about our gastronomy are the picadillos and gallitos, and that in our culinary culture, they absolutely must be accompanied by corn.

It is precisely as components of the picadillo that under-utilized native Costa Rican plants are employed, giving this food a unique identity. It is very important, either on its own or as perfect complement or integral part of our traditional casado, and because it is made of fresh products, provides common, indispensable micronutrients for a balanced and healthy diet.

Our main traditional picadillos are made of one or more types of minced plants and vegetables-   Chicazquil, zorrillo, flor de itabo, chayote, and potato, or some combination of these with egg.

Deep respect must be paid to the corn tortilla, which has great potential. A vital part of the Costa Rican diet, corn is a perfect complement, an eating utensil- a tool for bringing a tasty delicacy to the mouth and enhancing flavor- and a way of giving identity to what we eat at any meal of the day.

We also know our cuisine must be made local, and yet global with respect to alcoholic beverages. We are working on developing regional gastronomical concepts, and awareness aimed at having service with warmth (very Costa Rican) and excellence. The key to achieving our objectives will be knowledge, excellence and passion… which is why in Costa Rica, gastronomy is and will be PURA VIDA!!!

Alejandro Madrigal
Executive Director, CACORE
Executive Coordinator, PNGCSS