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What's Cooking Panama! Part 1
a few interesting recipes from Panama
By Sherry Boyd

Plantain or platanosPanama is known as the "crossroads of the world." You can find just about any kind of food you’d care to eat. When it comes to what is really "typical" Panamanian food, one vegetable comes to mind: plantain ("platano" in Spanish). Every day of the year, truck loads of plantain make their way to the vegetable stands. What is plantain? At first glance it appears to be a banana. But it’s not. If you were to try to peel it and take a bite, you’d be very disappointed! They must be cooked.

When green they can be peeled, sliced and fried in oil, pressed into small thin patties and fried again. This popular version of plantain is called "patacones" (click for recipe). They are sold on every street corner and in every restaurant.

"Tentacion" (temptation) is the candied version of plantain

Tentacion or temptationAs the plantain ripens it turns yellow… and then black! The fully "ripened" plantain yields a sweet taste when cooked. The ripe plantain can be sliced and fried in butter as a tasty addition to any meal. Or if you want a real treat you can make "tentacion" (click for recipe)—"temptation" in Spanish! This is a candied version of plantain that lives up to its name.

Easily, plantain is the most bountiful vegetable in Panama, eaten every day by Panamanians in every province. If you look for them, you can even find plantain in select supermarkets in the United States.