Dedicated to providing you with credible information about living overseas
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroad

Questions & Answers

Q & A Menu Q & A BY TOPIC
To navigate, use menu bar to the left
Chris Frochaux of Chris Frochaux - SERVMOR REALTY – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The traditional foods of Panama are inspired by its Spanish roots: lots of fried food, in general. The most important dish is SANCOCHO, which is basically a very tasty chicken soup, but there is more to that... especially if you have not yet discovered the subtle flavor of the "culantro" leaf. But of course, where you come from, chicken soup does not feature yam ("ñame"). And free-range chicken ("gallina de patio") is best!
 
The best traditional foods are usually found in the country's "interior". I'm a bit partial to the Azuero Peninsula where I lived and where I've come to appreciate the "fondas", rather rustic and friendly food places, usually found on the side of the main road, under roofs made of palm leaves. There you can find "pastelitos de maís nuevo" (made from fresh corn, ground on location) and "tamales" (soft corn paste, mixed with meat, wrapped and cooked in a banana-tree leaf), "arroz con pollo" (rice with chicken), "empanadas" (which my dictionary translates as turnovers), and all kinds of fried delicacies, such as "carimañolas", which are as good as they are cheap.
 
For a country nested between two oceans, seafood ("marisco") is far from being prevalent, if you except the ubiquitous "corvina" (which you could translate as some sort of Chilean bass) and the "pulpo" (octopus). Be sure to try the "ceviche" (raw seafood "cooked" in lemon, with plenty of onions), the perfect appetizer. 
Charles Conn of The Visitor – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
guandu beans – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingPanama has several traditional foods. One of the national dishes of Panama is arroz con pollo, which translates to “rice with chicken.” It is a type of rice dish which is yellow in color because of the condiments used in making it. It usually has a mix of vegetables and long, shredded chicken. Arroz con pollo is commonly served during birthdays, weddings, Christmas, New Year’s, etc.
 
Another traditional dish here in Panama is tamales. Our tamales are made in a type of banana leaf (called “bijao”) and have the same color as the arroz con pollo because of the condiments used.  Corn puree is steamed into the banana leaf so you have a pocket of delicious flavor. They usually mix the filling with olives, raisins, and chicken or pork.
 
Another unique dish in Panama is “arroz con guandu,” which is another rice meal. Rice is a staple dish in Panama. Guandu is a type of bean that is harvested around December (pictured). It can be very expensive, depending on the availability, sometimes up to US $4 per pound.  To make a rice meal out of it, you need 2 pounds. It is sold in other countries under the name “gandules,” but here we call it guandu, and ours is a smaller bean. It has a unique flavor, but some people do not like it.
 
There is also the Caribbean style of making rice, typical of the provinces of Colón and Bocas del Toro, called “arroz con coco,” which translates to “rice with coconut.” That is one of my favorites. It is really rich in flavor, made with a black bean, so the rice becomes a purple color.  The coconut flavor makes it a little sweet.
Bill Hamilton of Bill Hamilton – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Chicken and rice, arroz con pollo – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living
The traditional food in Panama is chicken and rice. (Arroz con pollo, chicken and rice, pictured.) And then, there’s sancocho, which is a soup made with lumps of chicken, cilantro and vegetables. Panamanians eat traditional food all the time. Nothing but. It is the same in the city or the provinces. They’re all the same. You do have some Panamanians who have traveled and tried other food.
 
The bread in Panama is atrocious. You can only buy Panamanian bread that is chiefly dry and soft. And you cannot get anything with a crust.  I make my own sourdough bread with my own starter. I baked a loaf at the hotel once.  The staff tried it and thought it was wonderful. They had never tasted anything like it.
 
The best place to buy bread is Riba Smith. It is a small chain, but they specialize in imported products. They are more expensive, but you can get most of your things there if you know where to look. We have a few outlets. There’s one in Coronado, two in Panama City, but they also have one only an hour and a half drive away from here where we live in the countryside. We go there sometimes to buy some bread, and I freeze it.
 
You can get whatever you want. You just have to know where to look.
 
Victor Ortiz of Volcancito Village – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Here is what I am told by the people in my office:El Sancocho, traditional soup of Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living
 
The traditional food of Panama is exotic and full of that delicious Creole flavor. You have to try it.  Though their appearance here is not really the best I promise you'll love it.
 
The first picture above is of El Sancocho, a traditional soup with large pieces of meat, corn, and other items served in a broth.
 
The picture below is of Arroz de Guandu con Gallilna de Patio, which is rice with another kind of bean and Creole Chicken with sweet plantains.
 
Arroz de Guandu con Gallilna de Patio, traditional food of Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living
 
 
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panamanian Main Dishes
 
For years, Panamá has been a country that welcomes good cuisine, and has offered locals and visitors hundreds of varieties of international dishes.  We go from Middle Eastern to Latin American representation.  But mainly, Panamá is very rich in their very own traditions, divided into several territorial and unique ways of cooking.
 
In Panama City, it is pretty much a combination of international, with the traditional.  Several dishes are very well known and delicious, for example we can mention:
  1.  "sancocho" which is a chicken soup having as main ingredients chicken, "ñame" and "culantro; nothing else;
  2.   arroz con pollo" (chicken and yellow rice) with lots of red pepper, culantro, green olives and  "alcaparras".
Another favorite dish is the "wacho", which is a moist rice (not soup, though) that could be made with pork (the most popular), chicken or beef, depending on individual tastes.  Then the famous "corvina", (fish) a delightful dish for every visitor.  Also very popular are the "tortillas", "carimañolas" (yuca with meat), "empanadas", "hojaldres"(puff pastry), "yuca frita" (fried yuca).  One of the most popular is the "plátano en tentación" (yellow platain), made with brown sugar and cinnamon.
 
For weddings, the main traditional dessert is "sopa de gloria", and "sopa borracha".
 
For generations, grandparents have passed on recipes, especially in the "interior"  where the "SAO" is very popular, or in Colón, with rich Caribbean recipes, like turtle and turtle egg, white rice with coconut, and black beans combined with white rice, as well as "bacalao" (codfish).
 
Another very popular Panamanian dessert is "flan" or "tres leches"( this one is imported from Nicaragua, but accepted as Panamanian).
 
For Christmas and New Year, you can´t miss the traditional "jamón de pierna" (jam, not canned).
 
 
Nelson Vega of Panasurance – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Another traditional food of Panama is the panama traditional food tamal – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living"tamal", which is a mixture of ground corn mixed with condiments (onion, garlic, chili, pepper, etc.), and in the middle of the mixture they place a piece of chicken or pork. Some people also add a couple of olives and also raisins.
 
All of the above is wrapped with plantain tree leaves, tied with a few threads to keep the mix together, and boiled for about 1 hour for the corn to cook well.
 
The "Tamal" is one of the most traditional foods, and although in Latin America you will find that each country has its own version of the "tamal", I find the Panamanian "tamal" to be really unique and delicious, so give it a try whenever you have the chance.
GISELLE SOCARRAZ of Real Estate Chiriqui – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
 
 
Panama is a land of fusions and contrasts. Chinese cuisine in Panama is unique to Panama. Basque delicacies in Panama are likewise made into something radically different simply by being here. But that said there are a few dishes that are uniquely Panamanian in their sensibilities.
 
I could probably spend virtual page after virtual page describing the whys and wherefores of Panamanian cuisine. So instead....I'll help you make some! See? You learn AND you eat. Who says education is boring?  Today's subject: Whole Fried Snapper
 
First off you'll  need:
    1 whole red snapper  (cleaned and gutted, at least one pound but two pounders are ideal)
    3 limes divided into wedges (four way slice)
    2 cups of frying oil (I personally always go for coconut oil for that genuine Bocas del Toro feel)
    1/2 teaspoon of crushed garlic
    3/4 cup of all purpose wheat flour
    1/4 cup of  cornstarch
    salt and pepper to taste (but don't go overboard)

1. Cut shallow lines into the fish with a small blade. Go for a grid cut.

2. Marinate the fish with salt, pepper and garlic (rely on the garlic, do not over salt or over pepper your dinner). Really massage it in.
3. Combine the cornstarch, flour and no more than 1 teaspoon of salt.  
4. Plunge the fish into the batter mix and just let it be for a bit.
5. Give the battered fishy a few good shakes and place it in hot oil (no more than 360 degrees).
6. Fry for 4 minutes until light brown and skin is crispy on each side.
7. Remove, pat dry with paper towels and serve (for the full experience try it using Aji Chombo sauce as dip).
 
 
Bon Appetit!

Go Here Next

Go Here Next

 
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadUse the menu on this page to go to categories of Stories.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadUse the menu on this page to go to other categories of questions.
The Best Places In The World To Retire Location Advisor makes personalized recommendations for where to live and retire overseasGet matched to your ideal location to live abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadAnswers about living, working or visiting abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadStories by expats & others about their life aborad.
Best Places In The World To Retire - MarketplaceFind for profit, non-profit and religious organizations.
 

Go Here Next

 
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadUse the menu on this page to go to categories of Stories.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadUse the menu on this page to go to other categories of questions.
The Best Places In The World To Retire Location Advisor makes personalized recommendations for where to live and retire overseasGet matched to your ideal location to live abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadAnswers about living, working or visiting abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadStories by expats & others about their life aborad.
Best Places In The World To Retire - MarketplaceFind for profit, non-profit and religious organizations.
 

Our Pledge To You

Best Places will present information from the Community in a transparent way, unedited, except to conform with our Conditions of Use.

You can trust that Best Places does not manipulate content to sell you anything. All opinions in the Community Q & A and Expat Stories are those of its authors, not Best Places.

Get Known To The Community

Those who contribute to the Best Places Community are our heroes! And being a Best Places hero is fast, fun, and easy. Just go to Questions & Answers, find your first question to answer, click on it, and then click the Contribute Your Answer To This Question Button. If you’d rather enter a Story, go to Expat Stories and click the Contribute Your Story Button".

Contact/Support

Please contact us. We would love to hear from you! Customer Service
Technical Support
Business Development
Suggestions
Press
Phone: (US) 520-940-0481