World travel, a confession and a mango smoothie
Have you been involved in one of those school travel projects? Recently, I opened a parcel and out popped ‘Flat Stanley’ on his way home to the States via Winchester (UK) and the United Arab Emirates. I gave him the tour, took his holiday pics and sent him on his way, but it did leave me with itchy feet. I wanted to pop myself in the envelope too. Why would I leave Dubai right at the most perfect time of the year though? The weather is balmly like a warm, summer’s day in England. There are even a few clouds and maybe a spot of rain. I might have to put on a cardigan.
But it’s confession time and something about which I’m quite abashed. I have never, ever set foot on the American continent…ever. If I did travel there, where would I start? South American for adventure, New York for excitement, San Fransisco for the food culture alone, Canada for it’s wild splendour and because I know so many nice Canadians. My geographical knowledge of this land mass is very hazy and when a friend moved to Panama all I could think of was the canal and hats.
It turns out that Panama is the southern-most country in Central America of about three and a half million people of very mixed backgrounds with a tropical climate; sounds like Dubai! My friend is a bit of a foodie but her reports weren’t encouraging as she described Panamanian food as ‘uninspiring’. The national dish is sancocho, a chicken soup which she describes as ‘very white – white chicken, white boiled potatoes, white stock and if you are lucky yellow corn and some coriander.’ Given the heritage of the people and the vibrant colours and lushness of every photograph I’ve seen this is very disappointing when looking for cookery inspiration.
There was a silver lining though. She was efusive in her praise of the fresh fruit available especially pineapple and mango – which is exactly what goes into my favourite breakfast smoothie.
What do you do with all your over-ripe bananas? I peel them, chunk them and freeze them to add to smoothies. They add sweetness, thicken and cool without the watery effect that ice gives. You can toss them straight into the blender (no water content to harden and damage the blades).
Juicy Alphonso mangoes from Pakistan arrive in Dubai later in the year which is when I make this everyday.
So my wanderlust has taken the form of a virtual culinary tour around the world and I’m joining Joan from Foodalogue and a band of merry foodies as we land on different shores in search of ingredients and recipes to transport our tastebuds and knowledge of other cuisines. No doubt they’ll be able to reveal a few more enticing secrets about Panama’s cooking and culture. The round-up is here).
I’m drinking my cool breakfast smoothie in the garden this morning, looking at the palm trees and dreaming I’m in Panama, dancing the tamborito.
Makes one smoothie
1 ripe mango or half if small
1/2 frozen banana in chunks
3-4 tablespoons plain yoghurt
approx 200 ml freshly-made pineapple juice (or carton juice)
dash of lime juice
honey or maple syrup (to taste)
Put all the ingredients in a blender (or a deep jug with a stick blender) and whizz until super smooth. Add more juice if it seems too thick to drink. Taste and add honey if you have a sweet tooth.
Have you been to Panama? Any dishes to recommend?