It was August of 1967, and my great-uncle Elias Alvin ("Bill") Fidanque (the family geneologist) was giving me a walking tour of the old section of Panama City. We walked past a vendor, and Bill bought some interesting orange-colored nut-like things. "Try it," he said, as he demonstrated the technique for eating piva (pronounced pee-vie for some odd reason). These are starchy nuts from a palm tree -- Bactris gasipaes -- that are boiled in salt water and served at room temperature.
They are probably terrible for you, full of high cholesterol palm oil and an incredible number of calories per cubic centimeter (1000 per fruit), but they are delicious, especially if you add -- to make things even worse! -- mayonnaise. This week at dinner at Bill's nephew's house in Panama City, I helped finish off the ones that had been prepared as appetizers that way, leaving uneaten these that were served with a touch of jelly.