Home History and Culture Cooking the Stories of Panamanian Presidents through Recipes, Anecdotes and Curiosities

Cooking the Stories of Panamanian Presidents through Recipes, Anecdotes and Curiosities

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The stories of Panamanian historical characters and moments are usually found in history books or biographies, even in books written in other countries related to the Panama Canal or the Spanish Colony. However, for the first time, stories of Panamanian Presidents are told through anecdotes related to the recipes that they liked to enjoy the most.

This book is entitled Cooking Stories (Cocinando Historias), and has been developed and written by the First Lady of the Republic of Panama Yazmin Colon de Cortizo together with Chef Cuquita Arias de Calvo. This book reveals the culinary secrets in the Presidential Palace and curiosities of the presidents who have passed through this iconic building since 1903 to the present time.

30 Years Cooking the Idea

The First Lady Colon de Cortizo commented that the idea of ​​the book started more than 30 years ago, when she was about to finish her university degree and her parents gave her the book “Cooking from La Fortaleza”, which contained recipes and images of the Residence of Puerto Rico’s governor. An idea that together with Chef Cuquita brought it to reality, and will surely become a historical reference for Panamanians and foreigners.

A Lizard for the American General

This book is full of curiosities within historical moments, being one of the most relevant when in 1920 President Ernesto T. Lefevre (January 30-October 1, 1920), ordered to serve food with lizard to a United States general who was visiting the country, to show the discomfort that Panama felt for the request of the Americans to occupy more land. A risky and even patriotic move to preserve the sovereignty of the country.

Panamanian Champagne with Ice

For many people it is a sacrilege to drink champagne like this, however, it became very popular in Panama since President Jose Antonio Remon Cantera (1952 – 1955) liked to drink Champagne with ice, a custom that has remained in Panama, and has become one of the very Panamanian traditions when celebrating, so much so that many people in the country like to drink it this way.

Mini Turkey Sandwiches in Panamanian Weddings

President Domingo Diaz Arosemena (1948-1949), the day his eldest daughter was getting married, ordered mini turkey sandwiches to be made. Since then, no Panamanian has attended a wedding without having tried this culinary delight at the entrance. Another Panamanian tradition.

Sancocho, Favorite Dish of the Presidents

Both First Lady Colon de Cortizo and Chef Cuquita agreed that most of the Presidents were extremely simple when it came to eating, where the Sancocho dish was almost always the winner. A surprising discovery since most have been people who have traveled the world for studiting, work or pleasure.

If there is a curious fact, it is that before the sancocho was not served all on a plate, it was placed on the table: chicken pieces, the eggs of the chicken that was a delicacy, the green plantain, the cassava, the yam, the lemon and the spicy. Once everything was put on the table, each person served the sancocho in their own way. Today it is very different.

Former President who Lived 110 Years Eating Chicharron

They say that President Bernardino Gonzalez Ruiz (president for only 6 days in 1963), lived to be 110 years old, without depriving himself of eating anything despite the fact that the doctor told him otherwise. He loved desserts, sweets and pork rinds. His favorite dessert being the Floating Island.

Palacio de las Garzas’s Mondongo

Story related to President Marcos Robles (1964 – 1968), who loved mondongo, and was part of a group called Los Mondongeros, who met at the old Paitilla airport. To find out the specific recipe, Chef Cuquita called Ernesto Arosemena, who got her the recipe from the lady in Penonomée who made the mondongo at the Paitilla airport. According to Cuquita, a very interesting recipe since apart from tripe meat there was stew meat.

The Billy Ford Case of Macaroni and Meatballs

Billy Ford’s favorite dish (who became president for a few days during Guillermo Endara’s presidency) was macaroni and meatballs. The family recounted that in one of his last social gatherings with childhood friends over lunch, Billy Ford considered it easier to serve himself with the pan on the table, leaving the dirty coals on the bottom of the pot on the table’s thin white tablecloth of the very fine restaurant. A genuine and unfiltered character.

This book had an arduous and not easy research job. Chef Cuquita Arias de Calvo recreated all the dishes, commenting that “This had to be much more than the presidential recipes. We achieved a book full of stories that allows us to see and live Panamanian history through the kitchen that perhaps most people are unaware of. A work to unite Panama”.

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