A trip to the local fish market a mile away seemed like an adventure, so we packed my dogs into my SUV on a Sunday afternoon and off we went.
We weren't the only ones who thought of going to the fish market on Sunday, and parking took a while. But a parking lot attendant who works for tips squeezed us into a tiny spot.
I wanted to keep my little white dogs white, so we each carried a dog rather than let them walk on their leashes. There is no way I can pass for anything but a Gringa, so I don't bother trying to blend in. If you look at the photo behind the fresh fish, you will notice the fish seller smirking behind his hand. I don't think frou-frou dogs and Gringas in big hats are a common sight at the fish market!
Our first stop was a stand selling ceviche in Styrofoam cups. Everyone coming out of the fish market had a Styrofoam cup overflowing with fish, and we did not want to take another step until we'd tried it. A menu listed the different types of ceviche available, but I still get confused about the difference between lobster and shrimp in Spanish. A man in front of me ordered something with large shrimp, so I tapped him on the shoulder and asked in my very bad Spanish what he had ordered. He promptly offered me a bite. It was so unexpected, that I declined.... even though I was really dying to try it. After all, taking food from a strange man isn't proper, right? He and his wife started an animated conversation with us about how good this ceviche was, and once again he offered. I couldn't refuse this time. Not only was the shrimp ceviche delicious, but it was a warm encounter with a local. This is the way Panamanians are. They happily share food with strangers.
After devouring the ceviche, we toured the fish market. Even though we'd waited until the heat of the day to go, the fish market didn't smell fishy. It was relatively clean and all the fish was very fresh. We settled on buying Corvina from a friendly man who spoke broken English. He filleted the fish in mere seconds, wrapped it, and handed us a parcel worthy of a grocery store in under a minute. For $10, we got two whole Corvinas, filleted and packed.
We then bought some fresh lemons and other fruit from a fruit vendor and hurried back to my apartment to cook the fish. With just salt, pepper and lemon, the fish was amazing.
If you like fresh fish, the availability of fresh fish in Panama is definitely in the Top 10 reasons to come down for a visit.