Amazing Menu

Chef Daria's Amazing Menu Panama

Yay, it's the old format! Hello, appetizers/soups/salads. Welcome back, meat and fish entrees. Make yourself right at home, vegetarian entrees. Glad to see you, dessert. And there's more!

Okay, so we still have the unwieldy teams of four - the Godlewskis may be identical quadruplets for all I can tell. And there are still children, although I'm sure Carissa would be a fine dinnertime companion, and she could even sing songs about "the magic spoon" or whatever afterwards.

But while TAR - American Families Finally Elsewhere Edition is filming in other countries, we will have the standard food column that we all know and love. Or at least the standard food column that I am accustomed to writing. And so . . . on to Panama!

Hot dogs are best at ballparks, although some of us prefer to get spicier cousins of the hot dog like hot Italian sausages. With onions, green peppers, and German mustard.
Let's see . . . the national drink of Panama is rum, Panamanians like seafood and arroz con pollo, and they have a special chicken soup. We'll get to all that. They also like baseball, and in keeping with the previous theme of food that both children and adults enjoy, let me say two words: hot dogs. Hot dogs are best at ballparks, although some of us prefer to get spicier cousins of the hot dog - like hot Italian sausages. With onions, green peppers, and German mustard. We take malt vinegar on our fries, thank you very much. And a real beer from a regional microbrewery instead of that mass-produced carbonated horse piss that the Linz kids probably drink because they're young and don't know any better. Mmm, ballpark food! I don't know what Panamanians serve at their ballparks, but if I find out, I'll make a note of it.

Then there's the four-part "What's Cooking Panama" site, with recipes. Good luck finding the next three parts - or go to the bottom of the recipes page, which has some nice, fundamental Panamanian recipes.

Sancocho is the national soup of Panama. See, it's a good thing the Race left the US, because I'm not even sure we've got a national soup. This yummy black bean soup probably deserves to be a national soup, too.

Since empanadas are so good, let's have a second recipe for Panamanian empanadas. Oh, and did you know that pastelitos are the "big brother" of empanadas? Now you do.

The national appetizer of Panama is ceviche, however you spell it. So let's try fish seviche and shrimp seviche. If you like your fish spicy, you can chop up a habanero for hot ceviche.

Meat And Fish Entrees
This page makes Panama sound like fun - and has a bunch of recipes for something called Johnnie Mazetti - a ground beef and noodle casserole, apparently. Also, a person could get really drunk on "Tropical Itch" cocktails. Fortunately, Johnny Mosetti, or however you spell it, looks simple enough to make while plastered.

Carimanolas are like little stuffed raviolis. You can use ground iguana meat if you have any around, but any type of ground or shredded meat will do, actually. Now, if you've got chicken, you're in business. Arroz Con Pollo is the national chicken dish, after you eat the national soup and the national appetizer. You can also make chicken with rice. Who knew the Panamanians would have such a thing for Worcestershire sauce?

In the mood for seafood? Check out shrimp on a stick, with oranges and jalapenos. If you're more in the mood for whitefish, there's red snapper with coconut sauce, and yellowtail with mango slaw.

Vegetarian Entrees
Beans and plantains will keep vegetarians going in Panama. Not all of these plantain recipes are vegetarian, but they can be easily adapted. Coconut rice with beans and black bean pie appear to be filling and tasty, both.

And now we come to the two Panamanian dessert soups, traditionally served side-by-side at wedding receptions. The first is called Soup of Glory. How nice! The second, however, is called Drunk Soup. Hmmm. I officially applaud the optimistic cynicism the Panamanians show by this pairing.

And if you want to get drunk without going to a wedding reception, you can down a couple of tropical itches, or you can be more demure and plow through an entire recipe for white wine sangria. For a more civilized beverage, try a mango banana smoothie.

Okay, you want a regular dessert? I sort of doubt that canal cake is truly Panamanian, but it certainly was inevitable. More reliably authentic is the cake that won't last.

Let's start with a collection of Panamanian recipes for ceviche, arroz con pollo, desserts, etc. The site of Juan Carlos Candanedo has a lot of different recipes, too. You might also check out the international women's site and this collection of mostly Panamanian recipes. Finally, there's always Food Down Under.