Time for a food blog!
Ah food, one of my favorite pastimes. Sam’s? Not so much. Me: “Where do you want to eat tonight?” Him: “I have no needs or wants, you are the food Mom.” Arrrrgggggghhhhh sometimes its frustrating but it also means I don’t have to make any unpleasant concessions. The man will truly eat anything put before him and clean his plate. He will say “you just never know when you will eat again”. This stems from the depression mentality of our fathers. I remember mine used to scrape mold off of anything and continue to eat it. As for me, food is not just a necessity but artistic expression and a historical representation of an area and its people. Food is a fabulous adventure of smells, taste and texture and even more so within the backdrop of a different country.
First and foremost we have eaten fish, plenty of fish, schools of fish. Guess what? I am not sick of it yet! Typically, its a whole fish, mildly spiced and deep fried but very lightly. To accompany that we have pantacones, mashed version of plantains, flattened and lightly fried. Also, on the side a “salad” consisting of one tomato, lettuce, a couple of chopped cucumbers and a Russian-like dressing or oil and vinegar, definitely more of a garnish. This is pretty much standard when you get the whole fish anywhere. French fries are always an option. The fish is the star here. It is usually corvina (sea bass) or pargo (red snapper). This is my favorite. I can’t count the number of these I have had. Also, I adore the ceviche and can’t get enough. I wasn’t expecting the amount of onions, so because of Sam’s hatred of them he won’t touch them or me after eating them. If you do it right, place the fish on a cracker with a dot of spicy hot sauce, it is a mouthful of bliss.
Also, langostinos or shrimp in a delicious sauce (creole or garlic) another favorite. I had lobster at the fish market yesterday and truth be told it wasn’t my favorite. Rice, especially the coconut rice, is amazing and I get it every chance I get. Also, we had some great tamales with chicken from a street vendor. Delicious little packages of mashed masa, spices, veges and chicken wrapped in a banana leaf.
Even hitting the food court at the mall is fun. We had a meatfest one day. We ordered this plate. I mean sausages, chicken, pork, steak. I will be honest, meat is not my favorite and the shear amount made me somewhat queasy. It was all marinated, spiced and grilled. I tasted it all, but honestly couldn’t come close to finishing. Sam is that “clean your plate” sort of guy so I usually let him loose on any thing I can’t or won’t finish.
Our favorite Italian restaurant doesn’t disappoint. Pasta with putenesca sauce or alfredo, pomodoro, traditional tomato with a delicious basil aoli, yummy salad and bruschetta, Creamy cheesy lasagna, or meaty bolognesi. They had it all and was a nice change of pace from our fish fog. Chicken Cacciatore had an interesting Panamanian twist with spicy sausage and marinara sauce with some extra heat.
In Casco Viejo, we had a delicious surprise meal at Rene’s Petit. The waiter explained that we could just choose the protein and let them do the rest. So, a surprise meal! Right up my alley. I chose chicken. I got a squash soup as first course, a delicious salad, some aromatic rice with vegetables, and a chicken filet in a delicious lemony, garlic sauce. Tres Leche cake for desert. Ok, listen up, if you haven’t had tres leche cake, I can’t stress the importance of trying it at least once in your life. It is an impossibly moist cake soaked in a combination of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and whole milk, topped with a light whipped cream icing and coconut or a cherry or both. It is heavenly. Entire lunch $11.00.
We have also had steak a few times, and hamburgers. I have heard more than once that ex-pats in Panama miss hamburgers the most. Those fatty, delicious grilled 3-inch thick oozing hunks of beef where the grease runs down your arms. Yeah, I agree, the hamburgers are ok but leaner and missing a little of that scrumptious, drippy, delicious perfection.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the fruit. It is plentiful and incredibly delicious. Papayas, oranges, melons of every kind. They taste different too, fresher and more aromatic.
Let me tell you what I miss the most. I miss Broccoli! Yes, I said it and certainly didn’t see that coming. Where the hell is the broccoli? The brussel sprouts, the cauliflower, the green beans. I never expected to miss my veges so much. The roasted, brussel sprouts, the cheesy cauliflower, the broccoli with lemon sauce. The green beans etc. Weird! I am going to load up on my next trip home for sure. I did see some in the supermarket (one very sad looking bunch) and unfortunately have no place to cook right now.
The food in Panama is delicious, cheap and delightful. I am loving this food adventure.