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peppers in panama (fact and humor mix)

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Peppers In Panama

Hot Peppers

lets start in with terminology.

In spanish there is a difference between "hot" temperature (caliente) and "hot" spicy (picante) Note When referring to women they are the same (caliente).
Now for understandings sake DO NOT confuse mexican terminology for panamainian. you will be completely confusing and likely misunderstood.
If you ask for "salsa" they will probably either give you gravy or music.
If you ask for "pica de gallo" you might end up with an angry rooster.

So getting that out of the way let us deal with the words.

Pica = Cut or Bite

Picante = Prickly Itchy. Also to mean hot-spicy

Caliente = hot as in temperature. Hint: Do not ask for a dish that no es caliente unless you wish it to be cold.

Salsa = Sauce or gravy, or that latin style polka music.

Aji = pepper as in red (aji rojo), or sweet (aji dulce)

Pimiento = pepper as in ground pepper. (pimiento negro = black pepper)

Ajo = Garlic Ajiilo means cooked in garlic

Rico = rich, either in money (plata), or flavor (sabor)

Sabroso = flavorful, used in favor description, or something that can create the "drool" reaction

Fuerte = strong or fuerza (force) also synonomous with "kick ***"

Fuego = fire.( as in flame real or imagined)

Rábano picante = horseradish -(rare) but of necessary mention (It would be nice to have more available in Panama) Wasabi!!! (chanted in a deep gutteral samarai growl)

Cerveza = beer - used for a hot pepper acompanying beverage. Also to quench the fuego.

Mostaza = mustard (a frequent ingrediant to Carribean/Antille style sauces), usually giving the sauce a thicker, pale cast.

Aji Chombo = Habanero (actual translation is "blackman pepper" in reference to it being of Antille/carribean origin.)

Congo = Habanero alternate (sometimes used to describe tiny little hornets with bad attitudes)

Now let us get down to food in Panama in relation to hot peppers. from this point on, unless otherwise noted when we use the word 'hot' we are referring to the spicy variety.

In General Panamanian food is not inherently hot.
There are to my knowledge only two Hot (though probably more) dishes. Please feel free to add to this list of "hot" Panamanian dishes.

One is the ever present and heavily used 'ceviche' some times refered to as "The food of the gods" A man (or women, we will not be sexist here) could live their entire life on a diet of ceviche and cerveza (beer).

The other hot dish, is a concoction of cooked feet (usually pig) spiced with habanero pepper.sometimes hot (caliente), and sometimes cold (frio).this dishusually served at weddings or other celebrations (personally I think its to remind people not to put THEIR foot in THEIR mouths. I personally like the stuff but then I am of German extraction and therefore of suspect taste.

The following section on commercially available hot sauces provided by our on lacation reporter and well know radio personality, BBQ chef extraodinaire. The Gringo of Pese....Leo Ross!
Salsa Picante
These are the salsas available in Masisa, Chitré, 5 November 2002. In addition there was one sauce from Costa Rica, called Chilero, and one Mexican, La Costeña. As you can see they are dominated by the company Proluxsa (Productos Lux). The fourth sauce listed, Congo (Original), is the familiar, vinegary, red sauce without seeds. The other sauces from Proluxsa are all bottled for export and have a heavier consistency. I’m afraid that the only ones of these I have had are the following: Congo (Original), D’Elidas, and Doraz Ajichombo. I will have to try the others as they look very good.
Not seen was the old Panamanian standby, Aroma. I will have to check some of the minisupers and see if it is still around.
The company Aromatin went out of business about four years ago, they had made one of the hottest sauces available here, called simply Salsa Picante, Concentrado. Sold only in a little 5.5 ounce bottle, it packed a good punch. But is no longer available.
Name Manufactured by Principal Ingredients listed
1. Brava bottled for export Proluxsa Aji Rojos
2. Congo (Caribbean Hot Sauce) bottled for export Productos Lux Orange habañero
3. Congo (Original Hot Sauce) bottled for export Productos Lux Pulpa de Aji picante
4. Congo (Original) Proluxsa Habañeros
5. Congo Antillano bottled for export Proluxsa Vinegar, Water, Habañeros
6. D’Elidas Grifith Panama Vinagre, Aji Chombo
7. Ajichombo Doraz S. A. Aji Chombo, Mostaza

Reggies Note Many households in Panama the Man of the house will brew up his own mxture of "Vinagre Picante". Usually he will take a old seco bottle, fill it full of chopped peppers, onions, salt, garlic or whatever. Then fill it with vinagre. Let the brew decompose a bit, then serve it to unsuspecting victims. I have one at present aging, brewing, and fermenting at Dino and Melodyes Paso Ancho home.

The Peppers

There appears to be in Panama a variety of different peppers.

Aji dulce or sometimes strait Aji - This is your garden variety of "green" pepper. sometimes found in red as well as yellow coloring. I have noticed that they usually do not grow to the large sizes noted in the northern latitudes. I speculate that could be because of the 12/12 hours of day/night.

Aji Chombo or Congo - This is the "Black Mamba" of the pepper world. Its bite is brutal, it has been known to stalk its prey, or at times just get 'pissed' and come after you. Typically in red, orange, green. I am not sure but I think the "scotch bonnet" term is because that it has the appearance of a scrunched up animal bladder that a scotchman (or women) would wear on thier heads after drinking too much scotch. (Oh and all you "know it alls" who want to explain the difference between "Scots" and "Scotch" BITE ME!!!!) These are found everywhere in Panama.

Aji Rojo or Aji Picante - This appears to be a sort of Serrano pepper. It is quite common in Panama. Many a time I have sat at an open air restaurant eating a dish that I felt needed a little pizz-zazz. Then spotted a bush with peppers next to the seating area. I usually snag a couple and break out my shank for a little impromptu pepper slicing. Which I will some times add it to the hot sauce supplied by the establishment. note I haven't been to a restaurant anywhere in Panama that did not at least have one variety of hot sauce. Many concoct thier on special "witches brew" of picante.

Pica Parajo - or Bird Pepper. Thai Chilis fall in this categorey. There are many varietys of these little buggers. Some of them hot beyond the habanero, and others quite mild. These are usually wild peppers that cross pollenate with whatever is out there. They are small enough that birds (parajos) eat the ripe ones whole, and spread the seeds through out the countryside while aiming at cars, people, cats, and drying laundry.

Pimenton Español - Is available powedered (you might know this as New Mexican chilis or some other name) they are the peppers that grow BIG, sometimes eight inches long that are dried and used in just about very Mexican dish there is. Not really hot but tasty. (courtesy of Leo Ross, a Scots man who told me what to bite

I think the person is wrong about the chombo saying it is a habanero. the chomo is a chombo. but in the island world they call them red saviana as pic. above.
It used to hold the record I guess for heat.
when hunting in the mts of panama we would feast with the indians and they would bring chombos to the table. just a sliver would fire you up reaaaal good.

Red Savina - Ground Pepper# 425 1.5 ozWORLDS HOTTEST PEPPER! (heat index is a 15)
500,000 Scoville Heat Units

post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 

I guess it used to be the champ untill the Bhut Jolokia chili from India was found.

J. Lujan Of the lujan chile farms in NM asked Mr young (the head pepper guy at nmsu) for some seeds of the Bhut Jolokia chili from India strain.
Mr. Young said I will give you some,but hear me 1st.you might kill some one with these peppers that is how hot they are. J.Lujan said he will not grow them. at his farms.

but chombos are available by seeds. they are HOT.. But have a wonderfull flavor.
post #3 of 5
Good read, thanks for sharing.
post #4 of 5
Cool stuff Coyote.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Capsaicin, an alkaloid unique to chile peppers and what makes Red Savina™ habanero pepper hot, has been used as a natural remedy for thousands of years, starting with the ancient Mayans. Of all the capsaicinoids, only two compounds are responsible for heat; Capsaicin extract and dihydrocapsaicin. The National Library of Medicine lists the many studies of Capsaicin capsicum oleoresin, one of the most researched substances in nutrition and medicine involving the following health benefits:Triggers endorphins Decreases congestion Increases fat oxidation Anti-cancer Improves digestion Lowers cholesterol Lowers triglycerides Improves circulation Anti-inflammatory Reduces blood pressure Prevents blood clots Prevents heart disease

A dang miracle drug. http://www.chileplants.com/search.as...earchButton=Go
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