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Friday, August 23 2019 @ 10:52 pm EDT

Good Friday, Holy Week, and the Seafood Market in Panama

Food & Drink Today, the Thursday before good Friday during Holy Week (Semana Santa) is the busiest day of the year at the seafood market in Panama City. Catholic tradition dictates that no one should eat red mean tomorrow, Good Friday. "The National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States made abstinence from meat mandatory on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent and recommended that it be observed on all Fridays of the year but has allowed individual Catholics to substitute another penance on Fridays if they could not abstain from meat. For purposes of abstinence, fish is not considered to be meat because it comes from a cold-blooded animal rather than a warm-blooded one." (Source) The result is a major movement of seafood through the market, with vendors buying up and selling everything they can get their hands on, and buyers coming in from all over. From what I could tell there was a lot of buying going on and very little price-gouging. It seems like the vendors were just happy for the extra traffic. (more, and photos)

One of My Favorite Targets: It's fun taking pictures in the fish market. There's a lot of colors, contrasts, textures, and interesting people.


A Cornucopia of "Combinacion": This is the stuff you use to make "combination" rice with seafood, ceviche, or anything else. It's a mix of shrimp, octopus, clams, crab, calamari, scallops, and probably some other stuff I can't identify. If it's fresh it should not smell like "seafood" but rather just clean and kinda salty. All of the pieces should be firm and cold.


Fresh Pargo and Corvina: This guy has the ever popular pan-sized pargo and corvina, great for either filets or pan frying. The cost of $2.00 per pound for the pargo and $1.50 per pound for the corvina is the pre-cleaned price, and then he can either remove the scales or clean them for you while you wait.


A Busy Day at the Market: Lots of traffic but not packed, and brisk sales usually means fresher product for sale.

More Photos: Here's a link to the photo albums of the fish market. I'm going to add the more recent photos to the older ones.

Check It Out: The seafood market in Panama City is located at the "end" of Balboa Avenue near the entrance to Chinatown. Every cab driver in town knows were it is, and in Spanish it's the mercado de mariscos. If you go early in day is better for selection and freshness. Don't miss the ceviche near the front door, and especially the "coctail" mix on the right-hand side as you walk in. There's a restaurant upstairs where they will cook up whatever you want (fresh.) And, there's extra parking around back if the front lot is full.

Copyright 2007 text and photos by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. As usual, feel free to use whatever you want as long as you give credit and link back. Salud.

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