Culture

National Symbols

1. Our Flag

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Costa Rica's flag was designed and constituted in the year 1848, under the presidency of Jose Maria Castro Madriz. Since that year, the flag has always been three-colored. The First Lady, Pacífica Fernández Oreamuno, designed the flag of Costa Rica in 1848. The flag was designed after the ideals of the French Revolution - freedom, equality, and brotherhood - and the colors of the French National Flag. Each color represents important aspects of Costa Rica: Blue means the sky, opportunities at reach, intellectual thinking, perseverance to accomplish a goal, infinite, eternity, and ideals of the religious and spiritual desires. White means clear thinking, happiness, wisdom, power and beauty of the sky, the driving force of initiatives to search for new endeavors, and the peace of Costa Rica. Red means the warmth of Costa Rican people, their love to live, their bloodshed for freedom, and their generous attitude.

2. Our national emblem

Central America is imprinted in silver letters on the blue ribbon at the top of the coat of arms. The two branches of myrtle closing the coat of arms represent the peace of Costa Rica. On the white ribbon that joins the branches, the title "República de Costa Rica" (Republic of Costa Rica) is imprinted in golden letters. The seven stars above the volcanoes represent the seven provinces of Costa Rica.

The volcanoes represent the three Costa Rica's mountain range systems. They form a valley and divide the country in two parts. The two oceans represent the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The merchant ships sailing on each ocean represent the cultural and commercial exchange between Costa Rica and the rest of the world. The rising sun represents the prosperity of Costa Rica.

The small circles on both sides of the coat represent the coffee beans, "Golden Beans." Beside this explanation about our national flag and our coat of arms, if your are interested to know more about them, please visit this site: http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/cr.html (We found this page posted with some interesting information).

 

3. Our national flower

A beautiful kind of a purple orchid popularly called "Guaria Morada", was declared as national symbol in 1939. Some people say it represents the beauty of Costa Rican women.

4. Our national tree

A tree called "Guanacaste" as the Province where it is found, was declared National tree in 1959, as a tribute for the province's joining to Costa Rica in 1825.

5. Our national bird
  
The Yiguirro was declared national symbol in 1976. Its beautiful singing announces the coming of the rainy season.

6. Our national symbol of labor
 
La Carreta or Oxcart was declared national symbol of labor in 1988. During the 19th  century it was used as a transportation tool for coffee plantations and trade.

7. Our national heroe

Juan Santamaría, a young drummer boy who became a national hero by torching a fort where Walker's troops "called filibusters" were encountered in April 11,1856.

8. Our national heroine

Francisca "Pancha" Carrasco 1826-1890. The first Costa Rican heroine who joined the army to fight against Walker’s filibusters in April, 11, 1856. She was condecorated by the Government for her important participation in this action.

 

Best Costa Rican recipes

GALLO PINTO
Serves 6

Ingredients

        1-Cup black beans
        1-Medium onion, finely chopped
        1-Clove garlic
        1-Red pepper, chopped
        ¼ cup olive oil
        ½ cup rice
        Salt and pepper to taste
        1 bay leaf

Preparation

    As in any regional dish, this one has many variations. Traditionally, Gallo Pinto or Rice Beans is served at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. By itself, the combination of the carbohydrates and the protein in the rice and the beans forms a complete meal, equal to meat and potatoes. It is common to be served this dish with sour cream or a fried egg for breakfast, or as a sidedish with meat an d potatoes for lunch.

    The beans are soaked overnight and then cooked with enough water to cover in a pressure cooker 45 min. or buy canned black beans.

    Cook rice as you would in water with salt, following instructions. See variations below.

    In a pot, with olive oil, cook garlic and remove, cook onion and red peppers until tender, stir in the beans and add salt and pepper to taste, a pinch of oregano and a bay leaf. Stir in the cooked rice, mix well, and serve.

    Some variations are the addition of sausage, vegetables, serving cold with pasta as a salad, as stuffing for the Christmas turkey. Some people cook the rice in the resulting liquid from the beans being cooked. Overall a very tasty and simple dish.

HEARTS OF PALM RICE

Ingredients

        6 cups of cooked rice
        ¾ cup of chopped onions
        ½ cup of chopped celery
        ½ pound of suisse cheese (grated)
        2 cans of Hearts of Palm
        1 pint of table cream
        0.750 1t. of milk
        60 gr.of parmesan cheese
        ½ pound of butter
        ½ cup of flour
        ½ tsp of pepper

Preparation

    In a broad based saucepan over medium heat place butter and onion and brown lightly. Add celery, flour, table cream, and stirs well. Add milk and simmer. Add salt, pepper, and half the suisse cheese. Keep one cup of this sauce aside topping. Pour half of this mixture into the cooked rice and the other half into the hearts of palm,( previously sliced in small pieces).

    On large rectangular Pyrex place one layer of rice, 1 layer of hearts of palms, 1 layer of suisse cheese, and a layer of rice. Add the cup of mixture, the parmesan cheese, and butterballs. Place it in the oven for 30 minutes just to heat it.

CREMA DE PEJIBAYE
Serves 8

Ingredients:

          12 Pejibayes
          8 cups chicken stock
          2 cups whipping cream
          ½ cup brandy or cognac
          115 grams of butter
          4 tbs. flour
          2 minced onion
          2 bay leaf
          salt and pepper

Preparation:

    Cook the onion on low heat in the melted butter, stirring from time to time until soft.
    Add the flour and stir a few minutes. Add the chicken stock, the cooked pejibayes, peeled, without the seed and chopped. Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

    Process or pass through the blender, just before serving, add the cream and the brandy and keep in low until it is to be served.

    Pejibayes are the fruit of palm tree that only grows in the highlands of Costa Rica and Colombia, in Colombia they are called chontaduros, and they can be found in jars at Hispanic Markets. They come already cooked in the jar.

MANGO MOUSSE
    Serves 12

Ingredients

          1Kilo ripe mangos, or substitute for concentrate
          3tbs. unflavored gelatin
          ½ cup cold water
          3 egg whites
          1 cup sugar
          3 egg yolks
          1 cup whipping cream
          mango slices to decorate

Preparation

    Mangos are peeled and cut in chunks. Put them in the food processor and process until smooth, strain. You should end up with 2 cups of mango pulp.

    Dissolve the gelatin in cold water, then melt in a double boiler (bain marie). Place the mango in a saucepan, sugar and yolks, cook at medium fire for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the dissolved gelatin and cook for one more minute. Remove from the fire and let it cool a bit.

    Beat the egg whites until it peaks. Beat separately the cream until it peaks. Fold in the egg whites and the whipped cream to he mango mixture.

    Place in a ring mold (8 cup capacity) and let it cool until it sets, unmold and decorate with slices of mango.

CEVICHE DE PESCADO (MARINATED FISH)

Ingredients

          5 lb. firm-fleshed white fish (sea bass or red snapper)
          Juice of 15 to 20 limes or lemons.
          1 cup chopped onions
          ¼ cup finely chopped fresh coriander or parsley
          ¼ cup finely chopped red pepper
          Salt, pepper, paprika, and Worcestershire sauce, to taste
          Finely chopped fresh parsley, garnish

Preparation

    Cut the fish in ½ inches squares. Marinated for six hours in the lime juice. Add the onions and marinated 1 hour.
    Add the rest of the ingredients and mix very carefully.
    Cover and chill for about 4 hours.

    Serve in small bowls, garnished with parsley, with seafood cocktail sauce or hot suce on the side. Eat either with soda crackers or plantain chips.

    Important note on the Ceviche:

    Please note that ceviche is a form of cooking not with heat, but with the acid of the lemons, we usually leave it (marinating) overnight for a firmer meat. It is not, as some people refer to it as a raw fish.

NO-COOK RUM CHIQUITAS

Serves 4

Ingredientes

          2-4 ripe bananas, sliced crosswise diagonally
          ¼ cup rum
          2tbsp. sugar
          2tbsp. cinnamon
          ¼ tsp. Grated nutmeg
          fresh orange slices for garnish

Preparation

    Place the bananas in a bowl. Pour rum over them and sprinkle with the sugar and spices. Allow to marinate about one hour. Garnish with slices of fresh orange.