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Monkey, a Delicacy made in Chiriqui Province


[Beans must be throughly rinsed for several hours and the precooked before they are mixed with the rice.]

Beans must be throughly rinsed for several hours and the precooked before they are mixed with the rice.


[The meat used for the dish could be beef steak or pork sausage.]

The meat used for the dish could be beef steak or pork sausage.


[Ripe plantains are cut in slices so that the meal has a sweet component.]

Ripe plantains are cut in slices so that the meal has a sweet component.


[Here we see the bijao leaves that will later be used for wraping up the mono.]

Here we see the bijao leaves that will later be used for wraping up the mono.


[Beans and rice are mixed together in a big pot by using a big wooden spatula.]

Beans and rice are mixed together in a big pot by using a big wooden spatula.


[The pot of rice and beans is then cooked while covered with bijao leaves.]

The pot of rice and beans is then cooked while covered with bijao leaves.


[At the same time, the meat is fried.]

At the same time, the meat is fried.


[When everything is ready, the rice and meat are served on a bijao leave. Here, the only thing missing is the plantain slice.]

When everything is ready, the rice and meat are served on a bijao leave. Here, the only thing missing is the plantain slice.


[The leave is then folded, so that the meal is wrapped up in it.]

The leave is then folded, so that the meal is wrapped up in it.


[Here we see the tasty mono, ready to be eaten.]

Here we see the tasty mono, ready to be eaten.


By:

Marino Jaén Espinosa
2013-10-25

People sometimes get shocked when they hear that monkey is a common meal in the province of Chiriqui, located in Western Panama. However, there is no need to call any wildlife protection agency because we are not talking about a real monkey, as it will be explained in the next paragraph.

Monkey is the name of the traditional lunch farmers from Chiriqui eat when they are working on the fields. It is a hearthy meal of rice and beans with a piece of fried meat that could be beef steak, sausage or chicken. Another main ingredient is a slice of fried ripe plantain. This combo is wrapped in bijao leaves so that it could be easily transported.

It is called mono, which is monkey in Spanish, because the farmer would hang it from a tree branch while he works, so that ants cannot get inside the food. Many years ago, a clever worker must have commented that this hanging package looked like a monkey hanging from a branch. And, thus, the name monkey stuck.

The monkey is a very important sample of the gastronomy of Panama. As a result, every year, the town of San Andres de Bugaba, loceted at Chiriqui, holds a traditional celebration named Festival del Mono en Bijao in its honor.


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