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What's Cooking Panama! Part 2
a few interesting recipes from Panama
By Sherry Boyd

Papaya treeIn Part 1 of What's Cooking Panama last month we talked about the ever-plentiful plantain. This month we're going to learn about the perennial fruit papaya. Our idea of what a papaya was changed when we arrived in Panama. Panama's papaya are large compared to the ones we see in the US, which most likely are imported from Hawaii. A mature Panamanian papaya would be about the size of a small watermelon!

Papaya fruitWe planted a 3-foot papaya tree in our yard about two years ago. Today the tree stands about 13 feet tall and has produced at least 60 papayas. Needless to say, we enjoy them in great abundance and have learned to use them in many different ways. The most simple is to cut into wedges and enjoy it with a touch of lemon as a side dish to any meal. It is also very good cut into chunks in a mixed tropical fruit salad.

We also enjoy chicha de papaya--a refreshing tropical fruit drink, or chicha as it is called in Panama. It's delicious. If you'd like to try it yourself, click here to go to the recipe.

Arroz con polloJust as papaya is a perennial fruit, rice is eaten everyday of the year here in Panama. We heard one time that Panamanians eat more rice than the Chinese! White rice, beans or lentils, plantain and a small portion of meat comprise a typical plate.

But there is another rice dish that is common in Panama. Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken) as it's called, can be found on nearly any restaurant menu in Panamanian. Nearly every Latin American country has its own variation, each adding distinctive ingredients. The Panamanians add green olives, capers and green peas that make for a colorful dish. Why not try your hand at making this simple, tasty main dish... while you're sipping your chicha. The recipe for Arroz con Pollo is included on the recipe page (click here).