Aside from stops at Tocumen Intertnational, it has been years since I’ve been able to explore Panamanian cuisine properly. So when I heard about Panama Gastronomica and that the wonderful local chef Elena Hernandez was the organizer, I jumped at the chance to come. Like a smaller but still growing Panamanian version of Mistura, the event is full of local food vendors that come from around the country. Here are a few food and drink items I particularly liked:
1.) Sous from Restaurant El Caribe: Sous is an Afro Panamanian dish from the Caribbean side of the country of cow’s feet, cucumbers, and onions marinated in vinegar. It’s a tangy, fresh dish that I never knew existed.
2.) Hojaldre con Lechona from Riesen: Riesen is a restaurant of talented young chefs in the El Cangrejo neighborhood that serves farm to table Panamanian cuisine. These taco like bites with tender pork were packed with flavor.
3.) Mosaic Single Hop Rye IPA from Casa Bruja: Who knew there was decent craft beer in Panama? This full bodied rye (5.9%ABV) was one of three IPA’s they had on tap at Panama Gatronomica’s biergarten area, the other being their Sir Francis Imperial IPA and Chivoperro IPA.
4.) Aji Chomba Hot Sauces at Proyecto Paila: This collaboration of young Panamanian chefs has been at the helm of all sorts of intuitive food projects. At the event, they sold a line of hot sauces using local peppers, as well as yucca fries and yucca balls.
5.) Torrejitas de Bacalao from La Tapa de Coco: They were a little bit greasy, but Torrejitas de Bacalao (Codfish Cakes) from this Afro Panamanian food truck were rather interesting.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.