Friday, August 26, 2011

Piva satisfies

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.


Laura said...

I think Julia Child said it best... "Moderation. Small helpings. Sample a little bit of everything. These are the secrets of happiness and good health."

Glad you were able to enjoy a tasty helping of yummy memories!

Darlene said...

From facebook:

That's great you tried it! For many years I'd go to visit Colombia (my husband is from Colombia) and always saw this being sold on the streets (it's called "chontaduro" there) but never ventured to eat it until our most recent trip there a few years ago. I decided to try it then particularly because I wanted to show our kids how important it is to try something new. I was pleasantly surprised to find how nice it tasted and felt sad that I'd avoided it all of these years. I kept that philosophy throughout our trip (but keeping safety in mind, of course, because you don't just eat anything and everything you see). It even took us to an opportunity to eat fried ants on the street, but honestly I do not see what's so great about those. They just taste like earth, which is not so tasty, so I'm done with those.

Michael Pahre said...

I spent two years in Ghana eating palm soup made out of these nuts -- boiling them, then pounding them in a mortar and pestle, then straining them to get the liquid out, and then cooking the liquid into a soup.

The soup was brownish with a maroon layer of palm oil floating on top.

Totally delicious.

I was amazed on a daily basis that I didn't die from heart failure.

Dhalys said...

I visited my city, Panama two weeks ago and I had the privilege to eat piva as much as I could. High in cholesterol, I did not even care:)...I have been eating piva since I was months old and nothing happened, thanks to God but it is a tasty fruit that nobody should miss if visiting Panama or Colombia.
Now they make piva' soup, cakes, and with rice. The variety of use of the piva in Panama has grown. The little coconut inside the piva is as rich as a regular coconut to make a nice drink with crush ice in a cold day as a drink. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I visited my country Panama two weeks ago for vacation and I had the pleasure to eat piva as much as I could. I eat piva since I was months old and we eat piva as much as any other fruit besides mango; not really caring about how high this fruit is in cholesterol.
I had piva for lunch and dinner most of the time with a large cold glass of guava drink.
The coconut inside the piva crushed is good to add on top of cold drinks like pinnapple or mint. Gracias!