Fruits and vegetables have been hit and miss here. I’ve never tasted anything as sweet and perfect as pineapple can be in Panama. Soooo very good.

But then I’ve never been as disappointed in the availability of fresh produce as I have been here. Actually, that’s not true. Former Communist Prague winter of 1991 was worse — only produce available was canned or pickled and the brand-new solo vegetarian restaurant cooked things in beef broth.

I expected tropical fruits in this tropical paradise. Delicious, sumptuous and available. Unfortunately, that’s not true. As far as I can tell there has been little produced and what is produced has not been high quality. Maybe it’s trade agreements, if you don’t have competition you don’t improve? Maybe it’s just where Panama is, massive quantities of goods come through the country (the canal) but none remain?

Maybe it’s the rain, so much rain six months of the year? The avocado is my example for that. In Panama, avocados are huge and yet so tasteless. As a Californian, avocado is a food group and I miss the tasty ones of home.

All I know is I’ve been searching, paying high amounts and not completely satisfied. I’m starting to look at canned veggies… a sure sign of the apocalypse. In California, fruit is plentiful, non-stop and year-round thanks to imports. I have almost no education in the seasonality for produce.

In Panama, there are trucks on the side of the road with bags of produce for sale. The problem is they are literally on the side of the highway with no place to stop and while we are working on our Spanish, buying produce as we speed by is a little beyond us.

I heard about a large farmers market in the city, but I’ve been warned to take a guide. I’ve also been warned that it is filthy, stinky and a bit crazy.

We were relieved when we discovered the local Chinese produce market. And the grocery stores carry produce. Sometimes they have what we want. Sometimes it’s in good shape. Always it’s expensive.

So when my Spanish teacher told me of a service she uses, I jumped at the chance. For $20, they deliver farm fresh fruits and vegetables.

This is what showed up at my house yesterday:

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The flowers were $7 extra.

This is what it looks like unloaded:

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There are things in there I cannot name. (That’s what Facebook is for. Thank you friends!)

So yesterday, I had a fruits and veggies field day. Like many farm fresh products, they weren’t all in perfect photoshop shape, but so far, everything has been delicious.

I made stir fry for lunch — cabbage, a couple green peppers (mild), eggplant, zucchini, onion and garlic. I added ground turkey, sesame oil, soy sauce and chili powder.  Very tasty. Leftovers are for lunch today.

I chopped up the cucumbers to make half sours, a current obsession of mine. Smaller cucumbers are better, but I figured I would try anyway.

Carrots and celery were sliced up for snacks. Does anyone do anything with celery leaves? They were so fragrant and in such good shape I felt bad tossing them.

Dinner was a salad and chicken season with oregano, garlic, lemon and fresh parsley.

I had fresh pineapple for breakfast.

You know what it tasted like?

Success.

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