Panamanian cuisine, by far, reflects a diversity of regional foods ranging from its northern and southern neighbors to the influx of the international influence. Today, Panama City enjoys being the cosmopolitan capital of Central America. Lately, speculation around the world is that Panama is becoming the new Hong Kong of the Americas. The City has it all: fine standard of living, international investment, abundance of beauty and the melting pot of cuisines from local and international flavors.
The fine Panama Restaurants are a medley of cuisine due its geographical location in the Americas. Enjoying good food is a natural consequence of the local agriculture. Panama's abundant local supply of vegetables, fruits and seafood not only account for the local menus, they also enhance the immigrant recipes brought in from the French, Chinese and Africans. One can quest on a dining adventure with the finest chefs from the Far East and Europe right to the delights of local cooks presenting traditional dishes of fine fresh seafood.
Speaking of seafood, Panamanians enjoy their catch of the week on Fridays for lunch. Guacho (wah-choh) is the gumbo of the people. It is thick and seasoned to perfection, as always, everywhere. The locals are very friendly to visitors and Guacho is often offered as a courtesy dish during hospitality.
Some of the traditional foods that are shared with Panama's neighbors are listed here:
Carimanola – A roll made from boiled Yucca, filled with chopped meat and boiled eggs. Served fried.
Empanadas – Flour made usually from corn. Filled with cheese, chicken and / or meat.
Tortillas – Ground corn and fried into a thin cake.
Tamales – Boiled ground corn with a meat and spices inside. Wrapped with a thin banana leaf and boiled.
Patacones – Plantain, at its finest: Green and cut crossways into pieces, pressed, salted and fried.
Tajadas – Ripe plantains sliced lengthwise and baked with cinnamon.
In general, Panamanian food is just a little less spicy than its neighbors. The local fishes are prepared in a number of ways including ceviche raw fish in lemon juice and cilantro. Shrimp and corvina fish from the Pacific can be found in the local markets as well as on the tables on the fancier restaurants.
Breakfast tends to be heavier than most Americans are used to: Deep-fried tortillas leaded with eggs and fried meats. Panamanian coffee delivers its own flavors and remarks. Try it.
Native meals generally consist of coconut rice, mat and beans with the seasonal fruits and vegetables as quash, yucca and plantain as a staple. Specialties called Sancocho are sumptuously made of stewed meat, chicken and vegetables.
The hotels and restaurants in Panama and Panama City offer quite a broad range of eclectic dining: Spanish, American, French and local cuisine. There are a large number of superb and down-to-earth restaurants to choose from in Panama. Like all adventures, exploring a country must begin with its culture. The culture lives on its cuisine. Panama offers the best of the Americas, Eurasia and Oriental cultures.