Panama Native Foods and Recipes

Panama Native Foods and Recipes

I will probably continue to add to this blog so check back. We are trying to experience all the native foods of Panama. They have an extensive list of favorites they love. One of our favorites is now Sancocho We fell in love with this hearty soup in Panama city at a local eatery called Manolos. Great place. Anyhow, Sancoho is Panama’s national dish. Whenever there are festivals and celebrations here you will find pots full of the wonderful soup. It is basically chicken soup with, yucca, chicken stock, chicken, cilantro  and lots of love. We found it again today at a local eatery here in Boquete. It is Sunday here and we were at the restaurant just before noon. Most local eateries are cafeteria style as is El Sanbroson. Everything in the cafeteria line looked wonderful, but we had in mind to get Sancocho. Okay here is what eating like the locals costs.

We each had a large bowl of Sancocho. Kevin also had a bowl of what is their version of gumbo. I had gallo pinto or (rice and beans). Our total lunch for both of us was $5.40. yes for both of us. And we were full. Here is how they make it here. We of course had ours made in the restaurant.


I love the gallo pinto. And here in all the grocery stores the number one staple to buy is rice and beans. Yeah!!! Here is a picture of my favorite new way to have rice.

Gallo pinto, —arvindgrover (

Photo Courtesy of Arvind Grover at Flickr

Panamanians love bread. At least I think they must. Every grocery store, small or large is full everyday with fresh baked loafs of bread all in different sizes. Fresh made cookies and cakes along just out of the oven breads, line up in glass shelves usually placed right inside the stores front doors so you have to pass and look.

I don’t know it it applies but the bread trend in stores might be due to the fact that a lot of Panama families do not have ovens in their homes. We don’t . So we can’t bake or roast anything. We have a 3 burner stove top. Anyway I digress. One thing I have always loved has been what I first called Indian Fry Bread, when I first had it on a Indian Reservation in Oregon when I was little. I have found variations of it everywhere, including here, I am glad to say. Here they call it Hojaldras.  This is so good  out of the fryer with a wee bit of honey on it for breakfast. YUM.

Indian Fry Bread—Stacy Spensley (

Photo Courtesy of Stacy Spensley at Flickr

Kevin is also trying to cook some of the native foods here. Our landlady told Kevin to help himself to as many Chayote’s as he wanted that are growing on the side of our home here. He brought in a few last night and we had Chayote as our side dish to a rotisserie chicken. It tastes like potatoe kind of. It is basically a squash and when peeled and cooked in water it becomes a melt in your mouth experience. It doesn’t have a lot of lflavor itself. Kevin added it to sauteed red onion and tomatoes, with pepper and salt and it made a wonderful side dish. We ate it last week when we went out to lunch. It was used instead of potato in a potato salad.

20101006 24thMain Chayote Cutler P1050272

Photo Courtesy of Wendy Cutler at Flickr


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