I was thinking about dinner after grocery shopping in the Panam Supermarket near U.S. and Rt 198. Just outside the door was a woman with two large insulated drink containers and a stock pot in a shopping cart. At first, I didn't understand what she was saying because I'd just exhausted my Spanish in the checkout (and bought nine more limes mostly because I was so please to have understood that they were 12 for $1).
Then, I realized she was selling food. She spoke very softly, and the music leaked out of Panam's doors. "Something in Spanish. Something else in Spanish. Y tamales con pollo." That was clear to my ears, and it was dinner too.
For $1.25 each, the vendor pulled hot tamales, wrapped in aluminum foil and still hot from the steam. Tamales are basically a corn dough mixed with meat and spices and then steamed in a plantain leaf. These were delicious with an almost-creamy texture and the full corn taste of a great cornbread. But peppery, not sweet. The chicken and pepper gave the tamales a strong
flavor, but the real pleasure was the warm, firm corn. That's comfort food in any language.
I still don't know what else the woman was selling. One of the guys standing around seemed to be eating stew from a plastic container. That would be good as it gets cold.
Definitely check out the Panam for produce, especially Latin items like guavas, cactus pears, etc. It also has a large butcher with chorizos, pork, shrimp and even live tilapia. Facing the checkouts, Panam sells cold soft drinks, including Coca Cola and Fanta imported from Mexico. Some people swear by the Mexican recipes -- as the New York Times wrote last month. I think the small glass bottles are cool.
111 Bowie Road
Laurel, MD 20707
NEAR: Panam is across the line into PG County just south of Rte 198 off the north-bound lanes of U.S. 1. You need to go a block south of Rte 198 on U.S. 1, then U-turn. Panam is in a shopping center set back from the road. This is the same shopping center as Laurel Health Food. Panam is on the far right set back pretty far from U.S. 1.