Do you know what these are?
Since it’s 6 am and I’m wide awake (did you hear that? awake!) a full hour before my alarm goes off, I figure I’ll tell you a little about pibá while baking a cake (bread?) to pass the time. Since I can’t fall back asleep. Yeah…I’m wierd that way.
So, here’s the deal. Pibá is a fruit. In fact it’s the fruit of the palm tree. And it started our trip out to Santa Clara.
In case you don’t remember, two years ago, my friend Elvera and I went to Panama and stayed with our friends Joe and Victoria and baby Jack. We ate very very very well. We arrived on the day that a long awaited new road was opened in Panama City, and were some of its first passengers. Midway through our trip was a national holiday as President Martinelli was sworn in. Everyone was off work, so Vic, Elvera, and I prepared a picnic lunch (including some pibá), Joe packed up the car, and we all drove out to Santa Clara beach about an hour southwest of Panama City on the Pacific Ocean.
We stop along the Pan-American Highway at Quesos Chela – arguably the best cheese maker in the country …
… and kosher to boot.
After stocking up on a lot of dairy to supplement the cooked pibá and salads we packed, I settle down with a coconut. And a straw.
(Hold on, the oven is beeping. The cake is done.)
Twenty more minutes in the car, barely enough time for the cheese to reach perfect-for-eating room temperature, we drive up to a house.
We pull up alongside this bicycle.
We find our own private beach.
Look what’s waiting for us.
The weather quickly turns from sunny to overcast to downright stormy.
We pack up our bags and bid our oasis adieu.
(There goes my alarm. Time to get ready for work. Do you think my new colleagues will like the cake?)
Drop into salted boiling water.
Boil for about 20 minutes until tender.
Rinse with cold water.
With a salt shaker nearby and a sharp knife, peel the orange skin and eat the white, starchy fruit. It tastes a bit like a dense potato.