All the Senses
13 February 2009 | Panama City
Stacey smiles, looks at me and says, "Let's try it!" while holding a bag of red flowers at the Panama City fresh market. "Good plan, I'll split it with you!", I immediately reply with a grin. But exactly what I tried, hmmm, I am not sure. It's a pop quiz at Zen Academy: What is this flower? And what is the name of the drink you make with it? Find a photo of the flowers in my pasta pot, waiting to be boiled w/water, ginger and brown sugar in our Photo Gallery (http://www.sailblogs.com/member/zen/index.php?show=gallery&g2_itemId=85325). Feel free to put your guesses in our comments section or email us on the boat. How can I describe this market experience? Pulsing with people, piled high with colorful fruits and veggies, and ringing with sounds of friendly Spanish speaking voices. If you've ever walked a boisterous farmers' market in Boston or New York, you know what I mean. The difference here, in Panama, is the sheer size of this market. Mind boggling. There's no strolling through w/your basket of goodies. One must drive because it covers many blocks. Upon entering, our taxi driver, Tony, brings the two of us directly to a stall containing almost every vegetable imaginable (photo above). There's competition in every direction, one right after another. Alternatively, some stalls are quite specific, selling only corn, or lemons, 20 more selling just watermelons, or huge trucks packed 10 feet high with bananas. As we roll through the throng, there's jostling and positioning amongst the large restaurant supply trucks filling up for their commercial customers. Tony decides we need a hard earned treat. Voila, he comes bearing gifts of freezing cold, fresh squeezed, orange juice, sweetened with some brown sugar. It felt totally decadent going down in the heat of the midday sun. Heck let's splurge and taste-test all the juices being served by walking vendors, it's only a quarter per cup. I feel like Rachael Ray. You can hear in my voice, it was a cultural foodie experience, one that belongs on the Food Network Channel. So happy Stacie had her camera to capture the fun. Zen's galley is chock full of fresh foods and the mystery flower juice. She's now ready to waddle to the Perlas Islands again and beyond to Galapagos. Tony, muchas gracias for a very memorable day of colors, cuisine and culture.