What is that?

Panama has some of the most delicious and weirdest fruits and vegetables you will find anywhere. Walking past the produce stand in supermarkets, local markets or the vendors on the streets with their harvest on the back of the truck numerous items can be recognized. The obvious tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, pineapples, bananas, and watermelons to name a few. Then there are those unfamiliar fruits and vegetables that prompt you to think or even say out loud, “What is that?” Visible and not labeled are long brown roots, small yellow things, round red prickly scary looking stuff and odd shaped green objects, some with brown spots, several without, many larger than others alongside a variety of more unidentified items.


Panama’s peculiar produce is abundant and delicious. Many of the exotic crops are considered super fruits and vegetables with great health benefits. Some to consider include;


Yucca, a long root looking object that can be used in soups or fried. It tastes much like a potato and is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as an effect on cholesterol levels.


Rambutan (Mamón Chino) which means Chinese sucker, is the red prickly fruit. This ‘super fruit’ is sold on the branches. Peeled open you find a fruit with the flavor similar to that of the lychee fruit, but slightly more tart with a delicious taste. The reported health benefits include effects on diabetes and hypertension.


Tree tomato (Tomate de Arbol) a small red oval shaped fruit with a tangy flavor, eaten by scooping out the insides and putting in a blender with other fruit as a smoothie. It is vitamin packed and delicious. Low in calories it is rich in antioxidants.


Guanabana (Soursop) if you replace ‘wahna wahna’ with guanabana it will help you pronounce it. With elongated green spiny skin, it is said to have healing properties. Scoop out the insides for a tangy, sharp taste. Studies link this fruit and its leaves to fighting cancer and shrinking tumors. Panamanians swear by this fruit!

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