Food in Panama: Discover the Country’s Gastronomy

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Do you already know what food is in Panama? What are the typical dishes and how are they prepared? In this post you will find everything you need to know.

Before traveling to the country, it is important to know what the food is in Panama, because knowing the origin and the way it is prepared, you will be able to detect if there is any condiment that you like or not, or if you are allergic to any of the foods, for example.

Panama, whose capital is Panama City, is a country located on the isthmus that connects Central and South America. The country has extensive coastlines, both in the Atlantic and the Pacific, which generate important maritime routes.

When it comes to cuisine, Panama stands out for its tempting dining options.

How did typical food come about in Panama?

In 1501, the Spanish discovered the area that is now known as Panama. Along with them came the African slaves (who essentially created the country). As early as 1821, this region was unified with three other countries: Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Thus, it became known as “Gran Colombia”.

Therefore, there is a lot of similarity between Panamanian cuisine and that of these countries. A few years later, Chinese and Indians began working on the Panama Canal. Eventually, the Americans arrived and took over the building.

This summary shows the mix of cultures that exists in the country, which consequently also applies to the gastronomic part. In Panama’s food you can see ingredients and techniques based on African, Spanish, and Native American peoples, which have given the country a unique style of cultural cuisine.

Generally, they are ingredients that are commonly found in recipes: cassava, corn, and plantain. In addition, there is a wide variety of sublime fresh fish and seafood everywhere, as the country is surrounded by oceans. Some dishes may be similar to those of other cultures, however, there is a twist that makes Panamanian food unique.

See some food options in Panama

As we mentioned earlier, Panamanian cuisine offers a wide variety and below you will find some options.

Sancocho Panama
Sancocho Panama

1. Panamanian Galinna Sancocho: The National Dish

This meal is perfect for curing hangovers for people who have had too much to drink.

It is a very tasty and light chicken soup, made with potatoes, coriander grass, cassava and plantain. In addition, it is common to use corn on the cob, ñampi, as well as hot sauce, chopped onion, oregano, and garlic.

This recipe is traditional from Azuero, but other regions have their own variations, which is why it is known as the national dish of Panama. Since many ingredients are used, it is a very tasty dish and can demonstrate a bit of what we were talking about before about the mixture of cultures.

Ropa Vieja Panama
Ropa Vieja Panama

2. Ropa Vieja: Slow-cooked ropa vieja

This dish is a meat stew with spices such as black pepper, cumin, and oregano.

Despite the name, the origin is from a legend that a poor old man was so desperate to feed his family that he cooked the old clothes he was wearing. As he boiled the pot with the clothes, the man prayed, then his prayers were answered and turned into a generous stew of meats and vegetables to feed his starving family.

With or without ropa vieja, this dish can be found in Panama City. In addition, it is popular in other countries in the Americas, such as Cuba, where it is considered a national dish.

3. Another Panamanian food is the Panamanian tortilla

Panamanian tortillas are thicker, circular, and made from corn dough and are also quite common in many countries.

It’s a Native American dish that’s been around for centuries but has spread to other continents. In 1631, explorer Diego Ruiz Campos wrote about the consumption of this dish by Native American inhabitants in the villages near the Calmito River, for example.

In Panama, they are mostly served for breakfast, usually topped with melted cheese or eggs, and resemble Colombian arepas.

They are fried or grilled, which can make them healthier. They are compared to pancakes because of their cooking process and their two sides need to brown evenly.

Carimañola Panama
Carimañola Panama

4. Carimañolas: Dumplings stuffed with yucca

Cassava is one of the most commonly used ingredients in Panamanian recipes and there are many different ways to cook it.

It is rich in starch and is very similar to potatoes, but lighter and tastier.

The yucca pieces are fried until golden brown, which makes them crispy. It is eaten for breakfast, stuffed with cheese or seasoned ground beef.

5. Patacones: Fried Plantain Chips

Patacones are slices of fried green plantain and are the Panamanian version of french fries or chips. Panamanians cut ripe plantains and fry them several times until crispy. The banana slices are smoothed and flattened before they are even fried again. After that, they are salted, which gives them a chip-like flavor.

They are popular in several countries in the Americas.

Did you want to go to Panama? How about doing your exchange with us?

Now that you’ve seen all these Panamanian delicacies, how about requesting an exchange quote ?

At Eurocash we operate with Panamanian dollars, euros and currencies from all over the world. In this way, you can make your trip with peace of mind, with the best rates on the market and have delivery to your home or accommodation, since we have an alliance with DHL and we send documents all over the world.

Thus, your trip to Panama will be much more enjoyable.