Where would a guy with PhD focusing largely on fish pigment pattern development, who is also a foodie, who loves butchering meat, who also loves new adventures want to spend his last full day in Panama City? Why, the, Panama City Fish Market of course!
HOLY MOLEY! This place was gigantic, bustling, noisy, hectic, and all-business. We saw tons of the fish we had seen when snorkeling, but now they were dead and on ice.
Sushi grade tuna? Got it. Parrot fish? Got it. Corvino? Got it. Grouper? Shrimp? Lobster? Clams? Squid? Octopus? Snapper? Little yellow striped fish? Red drum? Yellow fin tuna? Mahi mahi? Sea bass? Blue fin tuna? Crab? Other fish we don't the names of? Got it, got it, got it.
Lots of restaurant people were there to buy huge amounts of lobster, shrimp and fish for the restaurants. One guy walked out with over 50 lbs of gorgeous lobster in crates on a dolly. If he weren't so scowly, we would have asked him which restaurant he was buying for, but he was too crabby to talk to.
At the market, we ate the most outstanding, amazing, buttery, fresh, delicious ceviche I have ever had. It cost $1 for a paper coffee cup brimming with shrimp, fish, octopus, squid and more fish cured in lime juice with onion and a dash of pepper and garlic salt. DELICIOUS.
There is an upstairs balcony from which you can overlook the market and snack on your ceviche. The guys butchering the fish are speedy and efficient with their knives. One fellow was making fillets in no time. Check out the video below.
Upstairs, there is also a restaurant where you can order off the menu, or take fish you bought downstairs up for them to prepare to your liking.
On the menu, one of the starters was "Wanton Cammarones". I thought we were going to get some sort of mischievous or bawdy shrimp, maybe in a suggestive outfit. Instead we just got shrimp wrapped in little egg-roll-like wrappers and fried. Quel dommage.
We also got a ridiculously huge plate of the best fried spider crab imaginable, a really nice fish stew, and a bunch of lobster tails.
After gorging ourselves into bloated distentia, we went outside to check out the fishermen unloading their catch onto the dock behind the market.
Their boats were little, sturdy, no-frills wooden boats. The fisherman were strong, barefoot, and sturdier than their little boats. Little boats would pull up alongside the dock just long enough to unload, negotiate a price, pump the bilge, get paid, and go back out.
Many of the boats had "Vaya con Dios" or "con Dios como me guia" painted on them, and there were a few walls in the dock area that had bible quotes or pictures of Jesus painted on them. Before they go fishing, the fisherman pray twice, once for going out and once for coming back.
In the background of the pics, you can see the downtown Panama skyline.
Panama Fish Market was super duper fun, and Ian was the most excited I have seen him in a long time. Why go to some dumb museum when you could go to a massive market, right?