While its picturesque beaches and magnificent islands offer an out-of-the-world experience for travelers, a visit to Panama is incomplete without an equally exciting treat for your taste buds. Renowned for its authenticity, flavor and variety, Panamanian food offers a slew of delicacies that beautifully emulates the country’s diversity and abundance of culture. Influenced by a host of diverse ethnicities such as Native Indian, Spanish, European and Latin American, Panamanian food offers a unique culinary delight for visitors. Some of the most popular Panamanian delicacies enjoyed by the people of Panama and tourists alike are listed below.
One of the most popular Panamanian breakfast dishes, tortillas heaped with eggs, cheese and fried meat is the perfect way to start a morning in Panama. They differ considerably from there Mexican cousins in thickness, with the most common variants being a half-inch thick. They taste great when paired with a hot cup of freshly brewed Panamanian coffee.
Panama’s most typical country side dish, Sancocho is a stew popularly made with chicken, corn and rice. The stew’s unique aroma and flavor comes from a host of exotic herbs and spices that are used in its preparation. Some of the common flavoring ingredients of the stew are a starchy root called Namé and a local version of the cilantro herb called Culantro.
Arroz con Guandu
A typical Caribbean side dish, Arroz con Guandu is rice cooked in coconut water with Guandu – a bean of African origin. The rice dish is usually served along with a hot and spicy sauce, or Patacones, which is another fabulous staple dish of Panama.
A widely popular side dish and snack, Patacones go well with every meal. They are essentially green plantains cut in rounds, pressed together, deep fried, and then seasoned with a host of spices. Usually served with a healthy amount of Pico De Gallo, the most authentic Patacones are affordable and readily available in roadside stalls called Fondas.
The Panamanian version of the renowned Peruvian delight, Ceviche is made of raw Corvina or sea bass and is very popular in the coastal regions of the country. It is carefully marinated in lime juice and spice and mixed with chopped onions, tomatoes, green pepper, and cilantro. While the acidity of the lime cooks the fish, the spices add a sharp, pungent flavor to the dish. Typically served as an appetizer, it pairs well with crackers and tortilla chips.
Pastel Tres Leaches and Flan
Any Panamanian meal is incomplete without a large helping of the country’s exotic deserts. Pastel Tres Leches, which translates to “the three milk cake,” is a rich and creamy pudding-like cake made with three kinds of milk – evaporated, condensed and regular. It tastes best when served cold and with plenty of exotic fruits and nuts. Flan, another popular Latin American dessert, is a light and frothy egg custard with a topping of caramelized sauce and fresh cream.