Officially, Panama's separation from Colombia back in 1903 happened in early November, but I guess this Brooklyn parade and festival takes place in October if only to avoid certain cold weather, and perhaps the New York City Marathon. It runs up Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, past the one and only Panamanian restaurant in the city, and over Eastern Parkway to the festival grounds on Classon Avenue just east of Dr. Ronald McNair Park. In addition to the bands playing the parade, there is a DJ here and a line of vendors selling food and trinkets, amongst other things.
It is hard to move from stall to stall without noticing big steaming pots of bofe, a stew of beef lung, onion, and an assortment of pepper and spices. Flopped on a doughy piece of rich and amazing hojaldre, the stew soaks in and begs you to get your hands dirty. Those adverse to the iron tastes of innards may be put off, but this is still entry level offal, strictly because the dough and spicing is so intense.
Pots of another Caribbean specialty, caldo de pata de res, or cow foot soup, are also ubiquitous and tempting. The stew is full of content, at least part of a foot which you do not eat, as well as dumplings, corn, and a rich starchy broth.
Panamanian tamales should never be confused with their more famous brethren from up north. The photo may not show the large size of this item, but opening it up reveals an entire chicken leg still on the bone. The spices that this has been cooking in also make their way inside the casing, and so much taste is awaiting each bite. I literally sat with my mouth wide open in reaction to how delicious this was.
The 2014 parade took place on Saturday, October 11th.