CHRISTMAS TIME AND NEW YEAR IN PANAMA

What would you say to spend Christmas’ holidays in Panama?

Far away from cold, discovering a new culture, relaxing on white sand beaches, snorkel, wearing swimsuits and shorts, that’s what is expecting you if you choose to celebrate Christmas and New Year in Panama!

Try a snowman made in sand, taste fresh fish and seafood, get tanned on the beach, but not only.

You will be surprised by all the Panamanian traditions you will meet during this period!

One but not the least is the grapes’ tradition.

For the new year, Panamanians eat 12 grapes and count the total number of seeds to know which number is going to be their lucky number of the year.

Then, do not be surprised to catch people driving a suitcase by street (or in their house) around 12am. It’s a superstition which is supposed to make you travel during the year.

An other tradition is the “Muñeco”. Looking like a big doll, Panamanians build it (or buy it) for New Year. Made with papier-mâché and full of fireworks, Panamanians begin to set up the Muñeco in early December. They usually represent celebrities, public figures or politicians we heard about all year long and someone they normally do not like or do not care about. Creative way of taking a last look at a despised personality before making it exploded! Muñecos remain on display in front of Panamanians home throughout December before being blown up!

Let’s stay with fireworks… Panamanians are totally keen on fireworks! You are probably also used to it for New Year, but believe me, you are not prepared for Panamanian ones!
For Christmas and New Year, fireworks don’t only last few minutes, but few hours!!! So do not be scared if you hear the same noises for 2 hours, you are not becoming deaf, you are just celebrating as Panamanians do! It’s really common that a lot of families have their own fireworks! That’s why it never stops for hours…

You will also probably see people wearing red or yellow clothes. Red for love and yellow for a good luck throughout the year.

Also, Panamanians usually hang a bunch of oranges, rice, and wheat behind the front door, for prosperity, work, and health.

Of course, you will also enjoy typical Panamanian dishes as Arroz con guandù, Papa ensalada, Jamon and Pavo, Tomales, fresh Fish, rosca de pan, chichi de saril…

A real lush, authentic and original experience to live in Panama during this period!

 

 

 

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5 typical foods you should try while you are in Panama

Panama’s cuisine is influenced by the mix of cultures that live here. Indigenous, Creole and Latin elements have made their ways into the country’s cooking pots, and, along with the abundance of fruit, vegetables and seafood, have resulted in several dishes that you should not miss when visiting Panama. You will find a variety of seafood, accompanied by staples such as rice and beans, different root vegetables like yucca (Cassava) or ñame (Yam), as well as plantains and corn, but here are the five typical foods that you should definitely try:

Cevice

Ceviche (always served ice cold) is a popular snack or starter in Panama. Made with only the freshest seafood it can include pretty much any kind of seafood, but corvina (Sea Bass) is the most common one.  The freshness of the seafood is vital in the preparation, as the fish is not cooked, instead, the proteins of the raw fish are broken down with lime juice.

Try it at Panama City’s fish market where it is being sold in many varieties, or you can find it in most restaurants that are reasonably near to the sea.

If you want to try a shot at making it yourself, a recipe can be found here

Patacones

Patacones are a Panamanian staple, served with meat, fish or simply with a dipping sauce as a snack. They are basically twice-fried pieces of green plantain, and you will find them in mostly every restaurant in the country.

Quick and easy cooking instructions can be found here

Sancocho

Mostly every country has a chicken soup, and the Panamanian version is called sancocho. Every housewife has her own recipe, of course, and the used ingredients vary widely.  The most basic recipes only use chicken with one or two available root vegetables (most commonly yucca or name), others are more flamboyant, always depending on what is at hand. Ingredients often found in sancocho are sweetcorn on the cob, potato, and various vegetables such as carrots, peppers or celery.

A recipe that gives you a good overview over the ingredients is this one

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo is Panamenian comfort food, and is often served on parties, but it is also a popular meal in day-to-day cuisine. Similar to the better known Spanish Paella, it is made from rice cooked in saffron, with pieces of chicken, olives and green peas thrown into the mix.

Try making it yourself following these instructions

Chicha de arroz con Piña

Chicha refers to a variety of sweet drinks, ranging from simple fruit drinks to more complicated ones. One of the heavier, more flavorful ones is arroz con piña (rice with pineapple). It is something between a milkshake and a rice pudding, and is heavy enough to be more of a dessert or light breakfast than a drink.

Follow this step-by-step description to make it yourself

By Meret Schueschke