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World travel, a confession and a mango smoothie

January 12, 2011
Dubai views with flat stanley

Flat Stanley in Dubai - by a mosque, the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), the Burj al Arab and in a dhow building yard.

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.

Panama city

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.

Ingredients for smoothie and palm trees

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.

Foodalogue culinary tour around the world logoSo 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.

Mango and pineapple smoothieMango and pineapple smoothie


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?

  1. January 12, 2011 10:24 am

    Looks absolutely YUM !!!
    Making it as we speak !! 😀

  2. January 12, 2011 2:44 pm

    Love the recipe…will have one tomorrow! x

  3. January 12, 2011 4:01 pm

    So happy to have you join the tour and share the experience with us. Your smoothie looks like a refreshing drink for Panama…or anywhere else! I’ll be posting the round-up shortly.

  4. January 12, 2011 6:53 pm

    The fruits you used are definitely plentiful in Panama and your friend is right about the abundance of fresh and delicious fruit in my country. On a recent visit, my hubby almost passed out when he ordered a fruit punch and received a giant glass of freshly juiced papaya, orange, pineapple. Also when we ordered pineapple and Seco cocktails and he saw the bartender peel and chop a pineapple into a blender just before serving.

    I may need to PM you to find out more about where your friend is living, her description of sancocho sounds dreadful, though it is probably the only soup we make that is lightly colored and more brothy. However, traditional sancocho would have root vegetables, usually name (also known as malanga) and is flavored with oregano and culantro-a relative of cilantro that backs a much stronger punch. This is a link to my sancocho recipe

    See you at the next stop!

    • January 13, 2011 7:11 am

      How wonderful to be able to eat all that lovely fresh fruit. There is very little fruit that is grown locally in the UAE although we do have ‘local’ fruit that comes from the region. Some of the produce from Lebanon, Syria and Iran is fabulous. My smoothie when made in the peak of mango season is bright orange. I’ll pass on the link to my friend – I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.

  5. January 12, 2011 8:37 pm

    Lovely pictures! My brother-in-law is working in Dubai right now and my hubby and I have been dying for a visit…maybe someday! 🙂 What a delicious smoothy, it definitely looks like a taste of the tropics! (Your garden is so pretty too!)

  6. January 12, 2011 10:32 pm

    What a lovely smoothy. I also had to travel with my flat Ashley. I plan to follow your blog from now on and I will see you in Alaska.

  7. January 12, 2011 10:33 pm

    I forgot to tell you that I also have a friendfrom New York that teaches English in Dubai

  8. January 12, 2011 11:09 pm

    i really this smoothie recipe… sounds so exotic!

    • January 13, 2011 7:12 am

      Thanks Faith, Norma and Blackbookkitchendiaries. We do like living in Dubai and smoothies are a great start to the day especially when the weather is hot.

  9. January 13, 2011 12:16 am

    I smiled. A lot. First up because we went to Barcelona in October and we took Flat Stanley with us. Then He spent the Christmas holidays with us and my daughter was filling out her journal just this evening about her adventures with him and snow. Except there wasn’t much to write cause we had guests and Flat Stanley rarely came out!

    I love the smoothie too……..and funny I too have never been to the US of A…..I hope to remedy all that soon though

    • January 13, 2011 7:27 am

      We’ve done the lot…school hats on holiday, teddy bears etc. etc! My daughters are very keen to go to New York so that’ll probably be my first place to visit.

  10. January 13, 2011 12:25 am

    You hit on my very favourite breakfast drink. I don’t think I’ve ever made a mix of mango and pineapple but I for sure will now – sounds so refreshing.

  11. January 13, 2011 2:59 am

    Your smoothie is just on my line 🙂
    we share the ‘un-knowledge’ about Panama but I love Dubai; fell in love with the desert and the camels whilst on a brief stay in Dubai :))
    cu in Alaska then!

  12. January 13, 2011 5:40 am

    It was a pleasure to read your account of Joan’s virtual journey to Panama. Each time I visit a new location I wish I was travelling to our destinations in “real time”.

  13. bellini permalink
    January 13, 2011 5:42 am

    PS. Can you send me Flat Stanley, unless he has alreadt travelled to British Columbia:D

    • January 13, 2011 7:30 am

      Bellini – Flat Stanley left these shores quite a while ago. We miss him! Torwen – glad you liked Dubai (not everyone does!) Giz it’s my favourite – not too sweet but nice and smooth for the morning.

  14. January 13, 2011 7:35 pm

    LOL – love Flat Stanley! And although I don’t eat bananas I will tolerate them in smoothies… eslecially if there are mangoes involved :o)

    • January 13, 2011 10:19 pm

      How can a foodie like you not like bananas?

  15. January 14, 2011 3:03 am

    Love this! 🙂

    • January 14, 2011 9:57 am

      Miss Anthropist and Tanvi – popped over to your blogs too and well worth the visit.

  16. January 14, 2011 5:56 pm

    I have never traveled to the US either. New York would be my first stop too! A trip to Panama sounds fun though even if it is only through recipes. Your mango smoothie smells of summer which seems so far away…!

  17. January 14, 2011 7:48 pm

    I wanna be like Flat Stanley too…he’s having all the fun! And I love that smoothi. I’ve had mango and peach, but mango-pineapple is new to me=YUM!!

  18. January 15, 2011 9:29 pm

    A trip to Panama sound so much fun..I would gorge on tropical fruits all day.My husband will go crazy over this smoothie..he’s a tropical fruits freak..mangoes,coconut,guavas,pineapple & bananas..loves them all..smoothie looks yum-perfect to beat the heat.

  19. January 16, 2011 5:14 am

    I have never been to Panama, but would love to! And a mango smoothie is an all time fave.. irresistible.

  20. January 16, 2011 3:29 pm

    Mango & pineapple sounds a winning combo! Would love to make it soon. Good to have come to this lovely blog.

  21. January 16, 2011 3:52 pm

    Hi Sally,
    have passed on a blog award that I dutifully must to another great blogger. enjoy it. (although it’s not good for much!) You deserve it
    x Sarah

    • January 16, 2011 11:28 pm

      That’s so kind Sarah and I’m very honoured as it’s bestowed by you.

  22. January 25, 2011 11:50 am

    Mmm mango, pineapple and banana… What a great combination of flavors. It makes me want to travel 🙂

  23. January 27, 2011 12:11 am

    I just had to share Flat Stanley’s trip to Berlin with you………

  24. January 14, 2013 4:54 am

    I live in costa rica . Right next to panama. I lived in Dubai for 5 years. I love your blog and hope I can make some new friends who enjoy cooking locally . central America is indeed a culinary challenge

  25. January 14, 2013 5:23 am

    I make a dish from cucumber and mango that gets great reviews. It’s so easy… It’s a relish or salad? Whatever you want. Take 2 mango. 1 cucumber. Slice cuke lengthwise and scoop out seeds with spoon then dice … Cut mango cheeks .,preferably not too ripe… Into dice. Or as you want .. It’s up to you. Slice 1/3 of a jalapeño chilli… More or less . Again …. What you want. … Hotbot not. Put all in glass bowl .. Squeeze lime juice on all. Let sit …. Or not . Sit back and watch the people devour . It is so good and refreshing. You will be hero !

    • January 14, 2013 5:48 am

      Oh my néw phone!


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