Beth Warren recently returned from a trip to Panama where she gave a kosher supermarket and restaurant tour.

Here are some of the Panama trip tidbits that Beth has to share.

Shana: What were some significant differences between the supermarkets in Panama and the United States?

Beth: Many of the Kosher items in Panama were the same as the items one would find in the United States, especially New York. It was interesting but not surprising to see kosher items available that were native to the land, such as chipotle seasoned dried fruit, with the details of the packaging in Spanish. It was also nice to see a combination of health foods and regular items in the same stores.

Shana: Were there certain ingredients that are used in Panama that are not generally seen in the United States?

Beth: It was primarily the same foods. However, their local fruits such as lychee was widely available and their spice combinations were unique to the local flavor.

Shana: Were there any specific changes that you needed to make to your presentation style or your general supermarket/restaurant tour to accommodate differences in culture and ingredients used in Panama?

Beth: In order to be able to point out healthful foods and have a successful tour, It was important to scout out the supermarket and leave time to browse the aisles beforehand to become familiar with any differences in layout and products. The supermarkets in Panama were pretty straight forward in terms of how they organized the aisles, but because there were unfamiliar products, it was important to take the time to read through various labels to ensure that healthful recommendations were able to be made.

Shana: What were some of the highlights of your tours given in Panama?

Beth: Most of the patrons in the Panama supermarkets were impressively well versed in health and nutrition. The Supermarkets opt to buy most foods and ingredients that are whole food oriented. In the U.S, there is a greater lack of education in this health area, so we have what to learn from our neighbors in Central America.