18 May Cultural Comfort Foods: Panamanian Edition

Comfort food is universal. While cuisines may vary from country to country, or even between different regions within the same country, there are always dishes that remind people of family, security, home. Sure, we can talk about greasy pizza, mac and cheese, or fudge brownies, but if you grew up in an international household or spent a significant period of time abroad, I’m sure you have some pretty eclectic comfort food cravings from time to time. Some of my favorite comfort foods are Panamanian in origin, since they remind me of family dinners growing up – arroz con coco y gandules, patacones, and carimañolas are among my favorites. Pretty standard Panamanian fare, but also incredibly delicious and comforting (especially when mom makes them)! Central and South American dishes overall are known for being simple, rustic and fresh, utilizing local ingredients - lots of fruits and veggies as well as local meat and seafood. Panamanian food in particular has a variety of influences, including traditions of native indigenous groups mixed with African, Spanish and Chinese cultures (yes, Chinese! There was a significant labor migration at the end of the 19th century to build the railroad system.) Of course, some dishes are easier to prepare than others. I’d rather not spend 2 hours peeling, cooking and mashing yucca, thankyouverymuch, but I’m more than happy to swap out water for coconut milk in my rice and double-fry some plantains.   (Carimañolas - too labor intensive for me to attempt, but...

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28 Jan Play With Your Food

Do you like to get creative with your food, or harbor a secret passion for a good food fight? If you answered "yes" to any of those queries, or if you have just started flinging food about at the very suggestion, then you’ll love these quirky, messy, no-holds-barred food festivals from around the world.   Ivrea Carnival and Orange Battle, Italy, February/March Prepare for a pummeling at this three-day food fight, held in the small northern Italian city of Ivrea in the days leading up to Fat Tuesday. Around 400 tons worth of over ripe oranges are brought in from southern Italy for the epic battle, which re-enacts a Middle Ages rebellion against the Holy Roman Emperor known as Barbarossa (Red Beard). Thousands of people in medieval costumes gather in teams, with the king’s guards pelting foot soldiers and other carriage teams from their horse-drawn carts.   Copper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake, UK, May Yes it could just be the cheesiest festival in the world. Held atop steep Cooper’s Hill in the village of Brockworth near Gloucester, the event involves rolling an eight pound cheese wheel down the hill and racing down after it at death-defying speeds. The official event was cancelled in 2010 due to concerns around crowds and safety, but was quickly resurrected in an unofficial form. Last year, organizers replaced the Double Gloucester cheese wheel with a lightweight foam version, and a Colorado Springs estate agent and a Japanese contestant each won one...

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01 Sep Have You Had Your Fruit Today?

‘Tis the season…of the mirabelle in France- Lorraine, France (home of the quiche) to be exact! Lorraine is a region located in northeastern France, still referred to by many as Alsace-Lorraine, though the two regions are actually separate now. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~morgan/alsace/aindex.html At this time of year, especially in the capital of Metz (pronounced “mess”) and many surrounding villages, the Lorrains are celebrating La Fête de la Mirabelle, a celebration complete with a parade, concerts, art exhibits, fireworks, and even a queen! [caption id="attachment_1070" align="alignnone" width="300"] Meet your 2014 Queen de la Mirabelle and the runner-ups![/caption] http://www.mylorraine.fr/article/valentine-elue-reine-de-la-mirabelle-2014/28588 So, wait.  What is a mirabelle, and why are they celebrating it? Glad you asked! The Mirabelle is a small, sweet, golden plum. It has become an emblem of the region and a staple of la cuisine Lorraine, used to make jams, tarts, soufflés, and eau de vie (but of course!)  So, what’s not to celebrate? This year marks the 64th annual Mirabelle Festival that lasts until September 7th. [caption id="attachment_1071" align="alignnone" width="300"] Mirabelle pickin'[/caption] http://www.mylorraine.fr/article/recolte-2014-de-la-mirabelle-de-lorraine/28555    Tarte aux mirabelles, anyone?  Bon appétit! http://doriannn.blogspot.com/2013/09/quand-les-mirabelles-sont-belles.html  Mirabelle plum pie with a kind of crunchy marzipan Ingredients: 750g mirabelle plums - 60g melted butter - 90g sugar - 90g powdered almonds - 2 eggs - 1 Tbsp orgeat syrup ) 30g sliced almonds - 1 shortcrust pastry Rinse and stone the plums but make sure you do NOT halve them. If you just cut them halfway you can take the stone out but leave the fruit as it is. In a bowl,...

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17 Jul Shake your bonbon! (and your croissant, and your macaroon)

Sweet macaroons, succulent bonbons, and nutty pralines abound throughout France, making it the perfect place for a sweet tooth! But where should you start experimenting with the massive variety of pastries and confections available? We’ve got you covered with Panrimo’s top 7 French patisseries. [caption id="attachment_906" align="aligncenter" width="540"] I don't even know what that is, but I'll eat it.[/caption] http://www.paris-confidential.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/cafe-poushkine.jpg7.) Café Pouchkine Unlike any other patisserie in Paris due to it’s history as a Russian shop, you’ll find that although the tastes may be exotic, the head chef is most certainly French, as well as being a world champion pastry chef and winner of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France, one of France’s most prestigious trade awards. [caption id="attachment_907" align="aligncenter" width="850"] But how do you get them out of the glass pyramids??[/caption] http://www.labonnebox.com/magazine/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/La-Bonne-Box-La-Patisserie-des-reves-entree.jpg 6.) La Pâtisserie des Rêves Located in the 7th arrondissement, this patisserie is known for its fantastic breakfast treats and opens earlier than most patisseries, so if you’re headed out early, check it out! [caption id="attachment_908" align="aligncenter" width="2464"] Mustn't...

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20 Jun Florence: Open your mouth and your mind

[caption id="attachment_2182" align="alignnone" width="660"] Helloooooo paradise![/caption] I have several initial, unfettered, pure thoughts on being in Florence for 4 days: The clean streets are completely walkable giving off an "old Europe" charm. So much cheap wine and natural, fresh, local, great-tasting food! Have you ever ordered macaroni and cheese? Pasta and meat sauce? I'm sure you have. Order it in Florence, Italy and a party explodes in your mouth. Taste buds dance all day long here. Tourists abound, sure. But take a side street and it's all Italian language. Order a coffee in broken Italian (or no Italian at all, just using your hands!) and you're transported to real-life Italy. Art is EVERYWHERE. Yesterday I went to an art and ceramic restoration business. 4th generation family. After walking the aisles of impressive 13/14/15/16th century paintings and works getting touched up, I accidently hit a gold-colored pointed dome-like structure needing some fixing (it rests atop a church usually, but is only 8 feet tall). I apologized to Tomasso, the owner's son, for knocking it. "Oh, no harm done," he said casually. "But it is a work by Michelangelo."  When Florentines speak, they sing. Hands gyrate and sway and cut the air like a butcher's knife to a slab of beef on Via della Cernaia. Be ready to speak with your hands. Conclusion: Florence is a travelers paradise. And for a Panroamers perspective of Florence, be sure to follow Kelly's blog here. Tony Amante Schepers...

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