One problem I’ve encountered here in Panama has been finding some spices I need for my favorite recipes, specifically cayenne pepper. None of the four supermarkets I’ve been to in the city of David, Panama’s third largest, has had it and when I’ve asked people who work at the markets I’m greeted with a blank stare. They don’t have a clue to what it is.
Today in the spice section at the El Rey supermarket I found three bottles of cayenne. Pricey but essential. I bought two of the bottles and good guy that I am left the third for some other gringo who might be looking for it, too. In the veggie section there were packages of small peppers, red, green and yellow in the same pack. I thought perhaps I’d buy some and try drying them myself. I asked the clerk in the department if they were “picante” and he answered me in English. “No, sweet. You want hot?”
“Si,” I said.
“Over here,” the clerk said.
What he had were habaneros which I didn’t want. In our brief conversation he spoke to me entirely in English and I responded entirely in Spanish without even thinking about it. Oh, well.