Buying Fruits and Vegetables

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.

This is the front of the market. You can see avocados, passion fruit, papayas, parsley, bananas, pineapples, a bucket of flowers, oranges, and plantains.

This is the front of the market. You can see avocados, passion fruit, papayas, parsley, bananas, pineapples, a bucket of flowers, oranges, and plantains.

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.

It is handy to pull up to the back of the market because it's easy to park back there. Here you can see watermelons, lemons, oranges, more plantains, papayas, pineapples, and some ginger root.

It is handy to pull up to the back of the market because it’s easy to park. Here you can see watermelons, lemons, oranges, mangoes, more plantains, papayas, pineapples, and some ginger root.

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.

415market1

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.

415market2

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.

 

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
This entry was posted in food, fruit, Getting Things Done, Panama and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Buying Fruits and Vegetables

  1. So good to see you and Joel yesterday, and we’re so excited to be here. I think we know this stand. We bought a couple of things there last year. We bought a bunch of fresh produce today – loving how beautiful and inexpensive it is!

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    • It was great to see you too!! Also – we had a power outage yesterday afternoon and that flashlight was great. I could stick it to the light fixture above the counter and continue with my dinner prep (with sharper knives).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We do not get this much variety in Pedasi, but a couple of the Chino stores have begun to carry a few more vegetables.

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    • I know. If I was inclined to be a bit useful, I could load up a truck every week and help you out. I’m surprised some enterprising person isn’t doing this now.

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  3. kjscapper says:

    Looks great! Can’t wait.

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  4. Sunni Morris says:

    I think the produce market looks great, Kris. We have a Mexican market we go to once in a while here in the states and this market reminds me of that. I love fruits and veggies, but my husband won’t eat half the stuff in that place. He just doesn’t eat veggies. I don’t know how he survives.

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  5. oldsalt1942 says:

    When I lived in Potrerillos Arriba my friend David Baker would give me a lift down to David about once a week and we’d always stop at this place on the way back up into the mountains. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been there and from your pics it seems like its grown a bit since the last time I visited.

    The owner is always friendly as is everyone who works there and they’re very tolerant of anyone’s horrible Spanish. The quality of their produce is top notch and it’s good to see they’re thriving. Buen provecho!

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    • Yes, they have grown but the people are always great to us. If your hips would let you walk you could walk from El Rey. The one right across the street from El Rey is also good though, and the folks there are equally friendly and kind.

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      • oldsalt1942 says:

        There’s a veggie stand right at the crossroads at El Cruce that has been going strong for several months now and I buy some stuff there. Right above the bus terminal there are quite a few vendors selling produce. I sometimes stop there and buy potatoes at a buck a sack for 8 or 9 small spuds which work out fine for me.

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        • Oh yes I know, there are a lot of vendors in the terminal area. I’ve been to the one at El Cruce too. Remember the day I showed up with a bag of bananas? They were from there. Nice people at your stand.

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  6. Carole says:

    We have a farmers market here on Sat. And there are a lot of small fruit and veg stands around the Island. But the cost here is very expensive. The prices of Panama were so much cheaper, that is one of the reasons I can’t wait to move there. Thanks for sharing the photos, great memories when we were in David.

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  7. Mike Deangelis says:

    Great post Kris, so many veggies/fruits to choose from. Our growing season has not even started in Maine yet.,and it soooo short.
    How’s the biking going? Good for you, your an inspiration. I’ve been following your blog since day one. Great job. I appreciate your posts do much.

    Keep well and healthy

    Mike d

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    • oldsalt1942 says:

      The growing season in Maine might be short, but summers there are GLORIOUS. I understand you had it on a Tuesday last year.

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    • My husband has family in Maine. They say there are two seasons, winter and August 😀
      Biking is good and I am out almost every day. The panniers are working out great for carrying things so I can do a bit of shopping or bring home more mangoes.
      Thanks for the kind comments and hang in there. Spring is on its way!

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  8. schuttzie says:

    I love this post and your sharing of where you shop. I would be in heaven with produce like that! We are vegetarian fish eaters (if that makes sense, lol) so eat each and every one of those veggies. I love chayote but here in northern Illinois it doesn’t taste very good. We grow a lot of our own veggies and have put in most of the garden by now but we certainly can’t grow the variety of what you’ve shown. You are very blessed and I will live vicariously through your posts, haha.

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    • Yes indeed, we are very fortunate to have all this. Between the warm lowlands and the cooler highlands, they manage to grow most everything. Having your own garden is great too. I love to grow things and it’s so satisfying to enjoy produce you grew yourself.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Nice post Kris. I bought a mango today in S.C. $1.69. On sale $1.00. David.

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    • Wow, things just get more expensive all the time. And I just went today and picked up another big bagful off the ground. But at least you get to enjoy a mango now and then.

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  10. Rod says:

    Enjoyed this post. The outdoor vegetable markets are one of my favorite things I like about Chiriqui. Can’t wait to go shopping right now. Thanks Kris.

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  11. Pingback: More Panamanian Greenery | The Panama Adventure

  12. Laureen says:

    You too like Chayote – easy to grow, and pretty in the yard on a trellis Kris! When we were at Bill’s house, we had it in our salads regularly, the first time I had it raw. Yep, I may have to plant a couple in the garden, once we land permanently in Panama!

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    • Chayote didn’t work out in my yard and one day I discovered why. I spotted a young iguana making his way down the fence to eat the leaves! I had the same problem with hibiscus and if it isn’t the iguanas, it’s the squirrels. But Cedo shares many chayotes from her farm and they are in all the markets too.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Dang! Bill said that it was the neighbor’s cows who came into his property when a section of fence came down. The big critters ate the banana plants to the nubs, but the plants did survive the severe pruning, thank goodness. He has lost some stuff to a local iguana too, and maybe lead cutter ants. Guess I’ll have to learn new pest control techniques when we get to Panama. Way different than the slugs and snails of the Pacific Northwest. we have other critters too, but so far, I’ve been somewhat lucky.

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    • I know! I look at your seeds and try to decide which I might sacrifice to the experiment of seeing if they can make it here. I have a couple friends in Boquete where it is cooler, and they have dogs to keep the critters at bay. I’ll share some with them. Thankfully we don’t have cows but we get leaf cutter ants now and then, and it’s impressive what they can do in a day.

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