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

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Something for Everyone – New Restaurants Opening Doors in Panama City

ImageBy Benita Rose

Generally spoken, Panama´s gastronomy is a result of historical influences of the country such as Amerindian, Hispanic, African and Afroantillean cultures, and could not be any more diverse. This is the reason why food has become a great attraction in the Republic.

As diverse as Panama´s people is its food.

With its 2.000 kilometers along the coast (both Pacific and Caribbean coast), seafood, for instance, forms a part of traditional Panamanian dishes. In addition to this, plates such as the National soup Sancocho, Mondongo, Ropa Vieja (engl.: old clothes), Caribbean Pattys, or Arroz con Guandu (engl.: rice with Guandu) are classically served across the whole country.

Modern Panama City does not only offer a variety of Panamanian restaurants though, but it has in fact everything to offer an international culinary could ever desire.

In the past years a boom of especially high-class restaurants has been an implicit consequence of foreign investments. Month after month new restaurants keep on springing up all over the city, especially in wealthier parts as for instance Paitilla, Punta Pacífica, Marbella, or San Francisco.

Here a selection of Panama City´s newest restaurants:

In July 2012 the “Restaurante Raíces” situated at the Causeway (on the Perico Island in the Centro Comercial Brisas de Amador), opened its doors offering typical Panamanian food to enjoy after grasping some sun and sea breeze at the famous Causeway.

In San Francisco “La Valentina” with an outside terrace and Italian and Argentinean food, as well as the “Taberna 66” – also in San Francisco – on Calle 66 (House No. 73) offering Mediterranean dishes, are open to be visited.

For those who prefer international food “Café Chic” on Calle Uruguay is a fancy, new location with a somewhat European style and atmosphere.

Panama´s Bristol Hotel (Ave. Aquilino de la Guardia, Financial district) also just recently opened its “838 Lounge” with a bar and a restaurant inside offering a variety of cocktails and drinks apart from the standard menu.

Food and beverage lovers will also have the chance to visit the International Gastronomy Fair in Panama City. The fair will take place at the convention center ATLAPA from August 30th until September 2nd.