This is my very favorite store! I’m probably there 3-4 times/week, either at this shop or another like it. There are many of these fruit and vegetable markets around town. This is one of the bigger ones, and others can be as modest as a table in front of someone’s house.
We are lucky to be here in Chiriqui province where most of the produce is grown, and we have access to these markets every day. This one is down the road from us on Via Boquete, just behind the Toyota dealership on the Pan-American Highway. We have watched it at least double in size and they are always busy. There is another good one across from the El Rey parking lot. It is fairly new but it has also grown from a couple tables to a tent with many shelves and tables of produce, and a lots of potted plants.
We have found the produce in the markets to be fresher, cheaper, and more flavorful than the produce in the supermarkets so we buy everything here.
There is a lot more stuff inside! I’m always discovering something new in there.
The inventory changes a bit from time to time and by the season. On Saturdays you can get fresh, hot tamales for $1.25/each. Lately they have been selling gallinas de patio (yard chickens, or free range chickens) raised by the wife of the guy waving in the earlier photo. Let him know and he’ll bring one the next day ($2.50/lb which is almost twice what I pay for chicken in Canasta Basica, but it is excellent!) There is dried corn, some condiments, and lately there have been bottles of coconut oil and some salsas. I took photos of the price lists which will give an idea of the usual items.
Lechuga – lettuce, repollo verde – green cabbage, repollo morado – red (purple) cabbage, zanahoria – carrots, remolacha – beets, papa – potato, brocoli – broccoli, coliflor – cauliflower, habichuela – green beans, pepino – cucumber, tomate – tomato, tomate perita – Italian tomatoes, chayote – the squash like veggie we like, peregil – parsley, repollo chino – Chinese cabbage.
papaya, bananos (3/$0.25), piña – pineapple (range from $0.75 – $1.25 each for a big one, depending on availability), limon – one of the many types of lemon/lime fruits available here, platano – plantain, yuca – root vegetable aka cassava, atoe – another root veggie from plants that look like ornamental elephant ears, name – another root veggie, zapallo – the pumpkin like squash, cebolla – onions, apio – celery, mango, toronja – grapefruit, coco – coconut, naranja – orange, melon – cantaloupe melon, porot / frijol – various types of dried beans, lentejas – lentils, avas – don’t know what this is, guandu – pigeon peas in green, spotted, or black, raspadura – cakes of raw sugar, cebolla morado – red (purple) onions, cebollina – green onions.
Whew! Lots of stuff. What you probably can’t see in the photos is there is a dirt floor, and on the south side of the shop there is a very large tree root that you have to be careful not to trip over. The cat is usually sleeping on some shelf or in some vegetable bin. They will also cut out a bad part of something, put the item in a plastic bag and put it back out of the shelf for sale. This is probably what is going on with the papayas in bags in front of the store. If something can be used it does not go to waste.
I am so used to these markets that I am always surprised when I go back to the US. The produce all looks perfect, and it’s all carefully arranged in beautiful displays. Here though, it is all about flavor and value for the money, not appearance.
I am so used to a lot of things here that this is my normal life. But, I realize that for others not living here, it might be interesting to see where we shop and what is available here so I am going to try to do a post like this now and then.