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Tonight we enjoyed a meal from Panama. This time instead of searching for traditional meals I contacted a friend who has lived in Panama and asked what she suggested. She sent me a link to a page with different foods, suggesting the yucca fries as one she enjoys. So I took a look and selected a few from this page. I was hoping to make these fries but uncertain as to where we would get the yucca until Josh said we’d seen some the week before while shopping for Qatar.

Preparing the yucca

We started with making the yucca fries, cutting the pieces from our frozen bag into fry sizes before frying them in oil. These were then tossed in salt and sprinkled with fresh lime. The yucca tasted different than the potato fries but weren’t bad at all. None of us had thought of putting lime on fries before, but I’ll be trying it next time we make regular potato fries!

Tasty with the lime

For the main we made Carne Guisada that we served over rice. We took the stewing beef and browned it before adding the rest of the ingredients. Once they were nicely browned we added tomato sauce, sofrito sauce, a package of sazon seasoning, adobo seasoning, and oregano. This simmered for an hour, making the meat so nice and tender. Finally we added potatoes to cook before serving.

Flavours in our Carne Guisada.

This dish was enjoyed by all and one I would like to make again. It had lots of flavour and was so tender! One thought it was a bit too salty but was otherwise good.

Carne Guisada with a side of yucca fries

Dessert, though it smelled amazing while cooking, was a huge flop. It was supposed to be caramelized sweet plantains, but the only thing of that title that rang true was that they were plantains!

The plantains ended up being green and not ripe as described (we bought the best looking ones not thinking they’d be so green), which made them quite difficult to peel. These were cut into pieces and sautéed in butter and coconut oil. Once they’d browned a bit I added cinnamon sticks, vanilla, salt, coconut palm sugar (it was supposed to be raw cane sugar, which is what I thought we’d had), and cola. This was to cook until the bananas were soft and the sauce caramelized. This is where things went very wrong. I think there was too much butter left and I couldn’t see the sugars well to know where they were at. I stepped away for a second only to smell it start burning. By that time it was already too late and the bananas were lost to the char.

Caramelized sweet plantains before they burnt

I would like to try this again with regular bananas and less butter. The plantains may have been better if they were ripe, but as they were they were very starchy.

Did you know that Panama gained independence for the second time in 1903 with the help of the US and their first female president was elected in 1999? Panama is a Spanish speaking country with 4 million inhabitants. Panama City is the only capital city with a rainforest within its city limits.

Panama has 900 bird species and over 10,000 different plant species, including 1,400 varieties of orchids, 678 ferns, and more than 1,500 types of trees. Edward Murphy Jr of the Murphys law was born in Panama in 1918.

Finally, Panama has the only spot in the world where you can see the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic, and the narrowest point is only 80kms from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans.

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