What’s in season in and around the public market in Penonome

There are different varieties of bananas, plantains and squashes being sold right now, along with many other things.

What’s in season?

Photos and comments by Eric Jackson

Probably the most famous public market in Cocle province is the one in El Valle, but by various measures the one in downtown Penonome equals or betters it. First of all, there is a fresh meat, poultry and fish section of the Penonome market. Then, in the same building but apart from the market itself, there is my favorite bakery and on this occasion, they had a really good variation on the cheese bread that I crave. This one was small loaves sprinkled with herbs over the cheese.

The fruit, vegetable, beans and grains vendors inside are the heart if the operation in a farmers’ marketing town that goes back to colonial times, but upstairs they have a handicrafts section, there are people selling things outside the building and there are a bunch of nearby farm and garden oriented businesses.

I go by bus, so have fewer worries about traffic and parking being a pain in downtown Penonome. Maybe the next mayor will wise up and oversee the construction of some parking structures.

I went to the market with my camera in my bag and didn’t notice any tourists around. Some people seemed surprised by this old gringo taking pictures. But take this not as a tale of a picturesque tourist trap. It’s the economy.

From this lady’s farm, two varieties of limes and ice cream beans.
The big papayas. The little bananas. AND the garlic and green peppers staples for a low-budget old hippies’ ramen noodles. Et cetera.
Inside you find middlewoman vendors who sell other people’s produce, with bigger selections.

I could get into one of the darkest and least-told chapters in Panamanian history, the starvation and deaths (mostly from beriberi) in Panama City during and just after the devastating turn-of-the-19th-and-20th-centuries Thousand Days War. The moral of the story, other than the practical antiwar message? If you are on a basic poverty rations diet, VARY that diet. Too starchy? Oh well — but do corn one time, and wheat the next, and some rice (better brown), eat some plantains, and alternate tubers like skins-on potatoes, and yuka, otoes, ñame and other tropical tubers. The rotation might save your life. When getting past the starches, look at fruits and veggies before the meat, poultry and seafood.

Contact us by email at thepanamanews@gmail.com

To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

These links are interactive — click on the boxes


click to donate via PayPal