Traditional rice and beans from central America, with a fried egg, avocado, and rocket on the side. Though it appears to be a breakfast dish, I made this for dinner in my apartment in Amsterdam, 2022.
It is another rice and beans dish! I have made regional variations from Cuba and Brazil before. And just like with jollof rice, where Ghana and Nigeria are in dishevelment over where the dish originated, we have some healthy competition surrounding the status of gallo pinto! In this match-up, both Nicaragua and Costa Rica seem to claim the imaginary rights to this food. In a wise move to transcend the fiery discussion, Wikipedia editors have referenced a fascinating scientific paper by Theresa Preston-Warner1 (yes, the partner of Tom, who founded GitHub; never expected to stumble upon her scientific work in the wild) about how it is all even more uncertain than people dared to recognize. From its abstract:
"Gallo Pinto: Tradition, Memory, and Identity in Costa Rican Foodways". Journal of American Folklore. doi:10.1353/jaf.0.0043
Southern Costa Ricans describe pinto as a traditional food, yet they reject its possible origin in Afro-Costa Rican culture. While Costa Ricans’ use of tradition, as word and concept, marks and thereby validates contemporary praxis, the concept simultaneously erases the African cultural heritage of a country that imagines itself as white.
But let me get on to the food (see Wikipedia, Wiki cookbook, and this woman on YouTube). Sweat off some onions in oil, then add your rice. Fry off the starches, stir in some salt and cumin, and pour in enough water. Once boiling, lower the heat and put on a lid.
In a separate pan, sauté onions and garlic at a mild pace. I added some nice green Turkish peppers and hot rawit peppers. Pour in a tin of black beans. Add cumin.
Then, while my rice was off the heat and in its final moments of steaming, I mixed in the black beans and vegetables, put it back on low heat and stirred it through. Quickly fry an egg in too much oil, so we achieve the desired level of crunch. Cut up some avocado slices, quickly swirl some salad together, and plate everything at once. I tried a thing this time, and pressed my rice and beans into a small bowl that I flipped over onto my plate to end up with a satisfyingly perfect little hill. Ideally, garnish with fresh cilantro.