Are you married, single, or just hungry?

When you live in another country, the food is entirely different and you usually don’t know what something is by the name alone. How do you know what your ordering?

In Japan, the language barrier makes this impossible, so in Japan, the restaurants create wax replicas of the food and display the replicas of the food in glass cases. The foreigner simply points to the food they want.

Wax Food Replicas at a Japanese Restaurant

I can speak spanish fairly well. Even so, it is still difficult to know what you are ordering. When I am with my Tico friends. I will ask them. They usually give a quick vague response. Sometimes I think they don’t even know. There are also food items like cafe con leche where each restaurant has there own variation.

Some of the food items are simple to identify because the words in spanish match the food item. For example, arroz con pollo is rice with chicken. Once you know that, arroz con camarones is easy, it is rice with shrimp. There are many varieties of arroz con something.

There are other food items where the name doesn’t make any sense at all. When I was learning spanish, I remember taking a tour of waterfalls. We were at this one waterfall and I struck up a conversation with a local tico. He was describing the local town we were in, his family and started to ask me about myself. I was telling him about where I grew up, my family, how many brothers and sisters I have, the usual blather to get to know someone. The next thing he said, was “le gusta el casado”. Since I was new at spanish and casadoswe were just talking about family life, I thought he was asking me if I was married? I said, “no, estoy soltero”, no, I am single. He immediately busts out laughing. I couldn’t understand why he found it funny I was alone and single. I was 34 at the time, maybe he thought I was too old to be single? Perhaps this culture looked down on people that didn’t get married young? I couldn’t figure it out.

Well, it turns out “casado” is a type of food here. More accurately, it is a whole plate of food. It usually consists of rice, black beans, a salad, and some kind of protein (chicken, beef, fish or even beef tongue). You have to ask “Hay casado” and then they will tell you what the plate will consist of.

So, remember if someone says “el casado” it can depend on the context what they are talking about, it may have nothing to do with saying I do.  They might be proposing to you or they may just be asking if you are hungry.

Pura vida!

2 thoughts on “Are you married, single, or just hungry?”

  1. Not very often does that occur for English, however it could happen.
    You illustrate this quite well. Some restaurants here so the plastic desserts especially.
    All these blogs are quite interesting subjects that you give us a look on the inside track of culture and daily living there in Costa Rica.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hey Tom!
    That’s fun to read about!! I have a best friend who grew up in Mexico and he tries to help me understand some words. He was having a conversation on the phone with his mother one evening and I could understand that he was talking about me and my family, but, of course, I could not be sure.
    Cheers!! Keep it up, man!!!!
    This is “uncle John”

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