In almost every supermarket, street market, Chinese store or mom-and-pop grocery store in Panama, you will most likely find a decent stock of yuca, often called the bread of Panama. Next to rice and red beans, yuca is essential in every Panamanian home.
Cassava (Manihot esculenta), also called yuca or manioc, is a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America. The yuca plant is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of yuca.
Yuca was a staple food for pre-Columbian peoples in the Americas, and is often portrayed in indigenous art. The Moche people often depicted yuca in their ceramics.
Thailand is the largest exporting country of dried cassava with a total of 77 percent of world export in 2005. The second largest exporting country is Vietnam, with 13.6 percent, followed by Indonesia (5.8 percent) and Costa Rica (2.1 percent).
The yuca root can be cooked in various ways. The soft-boiled root has a delicate flavor and can replace boiled potatoes in many uses: as an accompaniment for meat dishes, or made into purées, dumplings, soups, stews, gravies, etc.. Deep fried (after boiling or steaming), it can replace fried potatoes, with a distinctive flavor.
Fried yuca is one of my favorite foods, specially for breakfast or supper. Today, my wife and I had fried yuca for breakfast.
Below are several pictures of yuca at a farmers’s market at San Miguelito in Panama City, Panama.
Whenever there’s a shortage of bread in Panama, which sometimes happen, I have no problem. There’s always the alternative of good ole fried yuca. Good Day.