Food For The Taking

Half of the entire population of the Republic of Panama live in the capitol. The rest of the country is pretty much rural. Even here in Chiriquí with the country’s third largest city (David) things are different than they are in most of the U.S. There’s free food for the taking almost everywhere.

As I’ve said before, while the official National Bird is the harpy eagle, the defacto national bird is the common chicken. They roam free all over the place. I even see them within the city limits of David. Unlike Mexico, Italy, France and other countries there really isn’t anything like a national cuisine here. The closest you could come to a national dish it would be sancocho. Basically that’s chicken soup with ñame and yucca, two root veggies, and seasoned with cilantro.

Sitting on my front porch I can see several different food sources and while some of them are on people’s property, others are kind of free for the taking. Like avocados. It seems that many people here have long, long poles, usually made of bamboo, that they use to knock down the fruits they couldn’t normally reach.


He’s after avocados.


Next door the neighbors have a lot of plantains…


And papaya…


There are also two HUGE mango trees and they’re LOADED and should be ripe and ready to go in a couple of weeks. There is an extremely bountiful lime tree in my back yard and orange and grapefruit trees are all over the place.

One thing’s for sure. The people around here will never starve.


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2 responses to “Food For The Taking

  1. indacampo

    Great post!

    I think that is one of the most difficult things for people who move from the campo to the city to get used to (beside the noise). The fact that they now have to shop for their food. Chicken in a tray is foreign to them as is fruit or veggiess from a stand or store. There is always way too many trees full of lovely things for everyone to eat, especially considering that most of them have very small (if any) refrigerators.

    Mango and avocado season going full bore here also. Our delivery guy brought us four large avocados on Friday and I got a bag of mangoes from mi amiga yesterday. Yes indeed, life is good in the campo!

  2. Capt Dan

    Except for the stuff, whose name I can’t remember that you have to boil for 6 hours before you can eat it. What was that Richard? It looked like something from a palm tree. Your neighbors gave it to you.

    They’re called pibá. When they’re in season you’ll find street vendors in David and Bugaba selling them packaged in Ziploc bags. I don’t know if they’re raw or cooked, but I’ll ask the next time I see them.

    Many of my neighbors have little areas in back of their houses where they cook over wood fires. Not BBQ but with big pots called “fogóns.” These are most often used for making tamales but also for cooking the pibás since it takes so long.

    To me the pibá tastes a lot like artichoke hearts, which I love.