One of the best ways to experience the culture of any country is through its food. Aside from its traditional cuisine and culinary arts, the local bread and pastries in Panama is one unique source of enjoying the food culture of this beautiful country.
Like its other traditional gastronomy, bread and baked pastries in Panama reflect a blend of Africa, Spain, and its indigenous population. While bread in Panama has strong similarities with other Latin American countries including Columbia, Venezuela, and Ecuador, Panamanian bread also has distinctive taste and flavor that contributes to what makes this country great and fascinating.
In this article, you will discover the different loaves of bread that you can enjoy in Panama not only to fill up your belly, satisfy your craving but to experience the beautiful and rich culture of this tropical paradise. Here is a list of Panamanian traditional slices of bread that you will surely love and the best bakeries and places where you can buy them, the next time you visit the country.
Pan Mitchita or Pan de Micha
More commonly known to foreigners as Micha bread, this soft, sweet and delicious sliced white bread is the most common bread used by Panamanians for breakfast. The bread comes in single portion loaves that are about 10 inches in length and narrowed on the ends.
Made from an enriched dough, using milk and butter, Pan de Micha is believed to have been brought by the French to Panama in the 1800s when they first attempted to build the Panama Canal.
Commonly served with white cheese and/or eggs, this bread is now a staple across Panama and is available in practically all bakeries, bakeshops and supermarkets. You can buy Micha bread in top supermarkets like El Rey, Riba Smith and Super 99. It is also served in restaurants.
However, one way to enjoy freshly baked and hot Micha bread is to buy in a local bakery store. The Panaderia Mundo del Pan located in Via Argentina, Edificio Lolita Planta Baja is one bakery where you can get the best tasting Micha bread that you can have off pat in your trip to Panama.
This versatile, flat, round traditional Panamanian breakfast bread consists of deep-fried fritters topped with cheese, salchichas guisadas (sausage stew), fried egg, huevos fritos, steak, or black beans, among many other variations. It usually comes with a tomato dip. The Hojaldras is equivalent to the French toast, which you can eat in combination with different dishes. Sometimes, only sugar is placed on the fried bread which makes the bread taste and looks like a pancake.
Hojaldras is another common bread in Panama, which is available in most bakeries and supermarkets. However, one of the best places to eat Hojaldras, along with its different variations is in Panaderia la Baguette, a popular small chain of bakeries with 3 branches in Panama located in Villa Zaita, Vía España, and Panama City.
Another place to buy hojalduras that is worth mentioning is the Miranda Bakery & Café in Calle 75 Este, Panamá. This small bakery café is popular among locals and tourists for its bread snacks, in house deserts, and other pastries.
These coconut threats similar to macaroons are made of sweetened condensed milk and plenty of shredded coconuts. Unlike in other Latin countries, the cocadas in Panama come in different colors and flavors including chocolate, coffee, and cinnamon with different dried fruits.
Although cocadas are technically not bread, this was included as one of the best eats in Panama because these pastries are perfectly combined with the specialty coffee in Panama, the Geisha coffee which is the most expensive coffee in the world.
The Panamanian cocadas are also commonly available in most local bakeries in the country. It is also commonly offered in specialty coffee shops in Panama that offer Geisha coffee such as Café Unido, the Bajareque Coffee House, and the Leto Coffee Brew Bar.
Crepes in Panama are very thin flat pancakes that are served with different kinds of fillings. Depending on the filling, Panameño Crepes can serve as a dessert or even a full-blown dinner like in the case of savory galettes topped with tomatoes, cheese, and garlic.
When it comes to crepes, the “Ay mi Negra” in Casco Viejo, Avenida B, Casa Perez, offers a broad range of menu crepes. As the best exotic dessert bar in the area, it also offers ice cream rolls, pastries, cakes, waffle pops, and other snacks.
El pan bon
El pan bon is a delicious sweetened tan bread sprinkled with fruits and raisins. You can eat the bread on its own and use it with a spread. El Pan Bon is a traditional Panamanian bread that is served during Semana Santa (Holy Week), a week-long tradition of Catholic Christians commemorating the passion of Christ.
El pan bon is usually available in popular bakeries across Panama like Pasteleria Venecia, Pasteleria Saint-Honore and La Suiza Cafe, among others. However, one of the best El Pan bon you can buy in Panama is from Chanideli Sugar Baker which is located in Ciudad De Colón, Colon, Panama. This bakery specializes in creating desserts to sweeten your days.
Carimañolas is the equivalent version of empanada in Panama except that, it is made of yucca cassava. Like empanada, this torpedo-shaped fritter is stuffed with cheese and ground beef, then fried.
Carimañolas is a favorite breakfast or snack of Panamanian locals. While you can buy and eat this dish in most snack bars and bakeries in Panama, the La Ceiba Bakery in Boquete along Calle la Feria Edificio Don Vidal Local No.4 sells one of the best carimañolas in the country. This bakery is also popular for its other great selection of sandwiches.
Originally from Mexico, tortillas are thin flatbread usually made of corn or wheat. In Panama however, the tortillas are generally thicker and made of corn. Often garnished with cheese or eggs, the Panamanian tortillas can either be fried or grilled. This bread is one of the oldest types of bread used by indigenous Panamanians dating back before Europeans came into the country.
Panamanian tortillas are available in most leading supermarkets in Panama. However, one of the best tortillas in the country can be bought in Los Tacos de Villa, which is located along Calle 45 Corner of Calle Colombia, Bella Vista Barrio, Panama City.
Rosca de Huevo
Similar to the Jewish Challah bread, the Rosca de Huevo is a popular Panamanian egg thread bread that is traditionally served during the Christmas season, although most bakeries offer the bread all year round. Unlike its counterparts in Latin America, the Panamanian version is extremely rich perhaps because it has more eggs.
Rosca de Huevo can be eaten on its own, or use to make different sandwiches e.g. ham, bacon, egg or chicken sandwich. The Panaderia Mundo del Pan along Argentina, Edificio Lolita Planta Baja, Panama, is especially popular for their Roscas bread. However, the Riba Smith Supermarket offers one of the best Roscas in Panama. Incidentally, it also offers a diverse selection of local loaves of bread, crackers, and pastries.
Pan Dulce, which literally translates to sweet bread, is an appetizing bread that is covered with different sweet ingredients such as white or dark chocolate, Nutella, milk chocolate, candied fruits, almonds, and other sweets.
When it comes to Pan Dulces, no one beats the Greek bakery and coffee shop, Athanasiou. This bakery which had been in business since 1938 is known for its bread dulces, pastries, slices of bread, snacks, and other sandwiches. It currently has four branches located in Paitilla, Albrook Mall, Obarrio, Via Poras, and Costa del Este.
Mamallena is a modest and popular bread pudding in Panama. Practically all bakeries in Panama offer Mamallena for obvious reasons. This bread is composed of slices of bread that are added with dried fruit, sugar, raisins, butter, spices, flavoring extracts, eggs, and milk, then bakes.
Because of the variety of ingredients included in this bread, no two Mamallena would taste the same. The Mamallena of different bakeries in Panama, would each have a distinct taste and flavor of its own. It would be alright to taste the mamallena in different bakeries.
However, one of the best Mamallena you can buy can be found in a bakery in the antiquated village of Pedasi. Simply known as “The Bakery”, this place is especially known for its mamallena and other quality pastries, sandwiches, croissants, and other desserts.
Assorted Loaves of Bread
If you are a bread lover and happen to be in Panama, you can get a taste of the Panamanian version of popular bread recipes from traditional German, French and Italian bakers. You can taste the German Country Bread, Malt Beer Bread, Oat Bread, Vermont Sourdough Bread, Bavaria Kaiser Rolls, Turkish Flat Bread, and Raisin Plait, among many others. Visit the El Valle Bread Club in El Valle Panama to get these international bread recipes that use fresh ingredients sourced from Panama.
They say that happiness is the smell of freshly baked bread. This maxim appropriate applies to Panama as the different traditional bread of the country is truly a source of pleasure and delight.
Pan Mitchita, Hojaldras, Cocadas, El pan bon and Rosca de Huevo to its foreign-derived recipes like crepes, tortillas and Kaiser Rolls, the different types of bread in Panama is definitely one of the many must-tries that you should experience when you visit the country.
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