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Boquete Panama – Tuesday Market Bliss

7-Sep-2017

The Tuesday Market in Boquete, Panama is one of the nicest markets I’ve been to. It’s certainly not the biggest by far, but in terms of international variety and overall quality, it’s one of the best. There’s certainly a lot of local arts, crafts, clothing, jewelry, etc. But since I’m not in the mode of collecting more “stuff”, I zoomed in on the edibles.

Total YUM!  Local organic coffee, baked goods (regular & gluten free), sweets, a huge variety of fresh organic produce, home made sausages, local chocolate, pizza, Panamanian food, local honey, fermented vegetables, pastured organic eggs, fresh drinks, locally made cheeses, health & wellness products, heat-and-eat meals, local raised & butchered meats, and much more. By my second visit to the Tuesday Market I had scoped it out and bought enough food to be blissfully fed for the entire following week.

Letting my taste buds rule

In only two short weeks in Boquete, my diet has radically changed. I rarely eat out, preferring instead to prepare my own food in my apartment. My meal times have turned into highly anticipated “events” for my day. And at each meal I am amazed by the amount of pure physical pleasure, nurturing and gratitude I feel from the ordinary act of eating. Not fancy exotic recipes either. Just simple things (primarily veggies) like a plate of stir-fried greens with feta, scrambled eggs with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and cheese piled into romaine lettuce “boats”, and an iced ginger drink.

I haven’t yet figured out why the food here tastes so much better. But I get the feeling that I’m finally experiencing what things are supposed to taste like. So I’m trusting my taste buds and following where they lead me.

Here’s a few of my personal favorite Tuesday Market selections…

Ukrainian Delights

The header photo of this post features Sergio and Flora from the Ukraine. They’ve been in Panama for 13 years. So the Boquete Tuesday Market is now the lucky recipient of their culinary talents. Sergio & Flora have an impressive lineup of fermented vegetables and fabulous baked goods. For example, the sourdough bread takes a full 7 days to make. First, the wild yeast starter ferments for 5 days. Then the bread rises for 2 days. The final result is a dense deliciously flavorful loaf.

But my absolute favorite is the drinks they make — fabulous! The big bottle you see in the photo is clearly not vodka. It’s a slightly fermented water kefir with turmeric, ginger, black pepper, pineapple juice, lemon, cinnamon and a few other things I can’t remember! Take a sip and feel the soothing refreshing healthiness wash through your body.

The small bottle is highly concentrated cold-pressed ginger juice. Add it to anything you’d add ginger to. I add it to ice water for refreshing cold drink and also use it to spice up my hot tea. However, be sure to shake these bottles before using. You’ll want to re-stir the goodies that have settled to the bottom.

Authentic Hungarian Sausage

Rudolf and Anna are from Hungary. They lived in the USA for 30 years, in Sacramento and in Branson, Missouri. Two years ago they relocated to Panama.

When you come to Tuesday market, follow your nose. Let the smell of their simmering homemade sausages guide you to their food table. The unique and delicious combination of spices makes it a must-try treat. I look forward to having one every time I come. Rudolf and Anna also sell their homemade bread, cinnamon rolls and walnut roll-up sweets. It’s all good.

Local goats = local cheese!

Piers was born in Venezuela and moved to Boston as a young lad where he completed all his schooling. After moving to Panama he operated an organic farm on his property. But five years ago he decided to switch to raising goats, starting the Milky Way Creamery. Piers still does all the milking and cheese production himself and his herd has now grown to 54 goats. Come by to sample several varieties of delicious cheese. I like the classic chevre but the feta is my favorite — absolutely divine!

Two guys and a cooler

Seven years ago Eric and his son Chandler prepared some food for a fundraiser. A lady asked them the name of their business. Eric said, “We don’t have a business, we’re just 2 guys with a cooler.” The name stuck and and thus their business was born!

Now they have a thriving business making delicious ready-to-eat / reheat meals. Eric & Chandler spend all week cooking and preparing popular dishes like lasagna, beef & broccoli, chicken parmesan, shepard’s pie, etc.

Many people order in advance on their website. Monday is home delivery day. And the Tuesday Market is for customers who prefer to pick up. Of course they make extra for walk-by sales. However, you must come early as they sell out quickly.

Fabulous organic veggies

I know it may be an odd thing to get all excited about, but I am honestly thrilled with the veggies available the Tuesday Market. I bought a good size bag of organic stir-fry mix containing collards, kale, garlic, spinach and bok choi. Yum! You can buy fresh turmeric and two types of locally grown ginger. In addition, I get my organic onions and tomatoes here.

I must also rave about the arugula. Since I love arugula/blue cheese salad, I buy arugula anywhere I find it. In comparison, the arugula here is super strong. But not in a bad way… for me the peppery/bitter flavor of this arugula is by far the most intensely delicious I’ve ever had.

And here’s something even weirder to write about… romaine lettuce. But honestly, it’s the best romaine I’ve ever had. Each leaf is clean, full, perfect and of course, has that deliciously rich just-picked flavor. Better yet, the entire head of romaine stays fresh in your fridge all week long.

Since I had never seen lettuce sold like this before, I had to document it. You can see in the insert photo that the core of the root ball is left intact. It’s nicely packaged up with the full head of lettuce. This is the freshness secret. What a marvelous idea! Consequently, a full week (or more) later, the inner leaves are just as crisp and fresh as they were on the day purchased. Not even the slightest hint of brown or wilt.

Conclusion… if you ever come to Boquete, be sure to plan to be here for the Tuesday Market from 9 am to noon. Below are more photos.

(Click on any photo to open light-box and browse full-size images.)

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