As Chef Juan Linares was designing his new cooking class to include fresh and different ways to use ingredients found at most markets in Panama, he began thinking about the rich supply of farm products we have here in Boquete, often called “Panama’s market-basket”.

So many of Boquete’s newer residents and visitors see these various ingredients in markets, and they can’t imagine how they would ever learn to use them in their daily lives the way most locals do.

We commonly see otoy, tree tomatoes, plantains and tiny red peppers offered on menus in local restaurants. Achiote seeds, culantro and packs of panela fill the shelves of our local markets, but so many of us don’t know how to use them.

With that in mind, Chef Juan opened up his second series of classes offering techniques and tips on how to prepare more of these common foods to make our local Boquete cuisine even richer and more appealing.

Twelve lucky participants gathered in my kitchen to help Juan prepare Tropical Cosmopolitans, Plaintain Chips, Ceviche, Red Sweet Chili Rice, Round Salad with Fresh Tomato Dressing, Fish Moqueca, and Corn-Coconut Pudding. Each dish was made using farm-fresh ingredients such as those listed above.

Well, not every ingredient was found in the local market. The Herrerano Seco comes from Panama City, Boquete’s favorite alcoholic beverage. Juan and I both demonstrated how local residents use it with tree tomato syrup to make a very appealing and tasty cocktail.

It was fun to see Juan’s Round Salad take shape as eager participants assembled the variety of ingredients into gorgeous, colorful towers and then topped them with fresh tomato dressing and chiffonade of culantro.

To my good fortune, photographer Betty Dabney joined in on the fun, and she graciously contributed all the photos in this blog.

Thanks very much for your photos Betty, you captured the essence of the evening.

We understand that you’re an excellent cook as well as a photographer, having attended a couple of the finest International culinary schools. It’s so nice to have you join in some of our culinary events here in Boquete.

This little mountain town has so much to offer, especially when it comes to sharing talents of its residents and visitors. Chef Juan and Betty, two very talented friends, are busy doing just that.


Enjoy the markets in Boquete, they’re bountiful!
Cora