Atlas y Calendario de Fiestas del Patrimonio Cultural de Panamá

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The Sweet Cabanga

[The wrapped cabangas as offered to the public on the dessert stands.]

The wrapped cabangas as offered to the public on the dessert stands.

[This is how the unwrapped cabanga looks like.]

This is how the unwrapped cabanga looks like.


Marino Jaén Espinosa

In Panama, cabanga is a word that means the type of sadness or melancholy that results from missing someone or something. Interestingly enough, it is also the name of a traditiona dessert made in the countryside.

It has three main ingredients: coconut, green papaya and sugarcane honey. The coconut and the green papaya first need to be finely grounded, then mixed with the sugarcane honey. The resulting paste is put to boil. When it has the right, the mix is shaped in rectangular or cylindrical pieces and put to rest. Then, the cabanga is wrapped in corn or sugarcane leaves.

This dessert, not as common as other types of Panamanian sweets, can often be found on roadside stands in Central Panama. The cabanga tastes so good that it will make you forget any sadness or melancholy you might be feeling.

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