To celebrate what I thought were a pretty good three days of Bagheera kiplingi collection outside the towns of Akumal and Chemuyil, I went back to Playa del Carmen (the city where I was staying) and decided to have some sushi. Believe it or not, Mexico is where I first ate sushi, when I was studying abroad in college.
What some people might find surprising about Latin America is the prominent Asian influence. In Panama, it is even more pronounced, where nearly every store is owned by Panamanians of Chinese descent (or Chinese nationals who have recently arrived). In fact, some people refer to stores in Panama as “el chino,” which is a noun used to describe a Chinese person. Considering that my name has often been “el gringo” while living and working in Panama, I can certainly understand the lack of political correctness around here. Panama’s Chinese immigrants have also enriched the variety of food in Panama, since nearly every Panamanian mother knows how to cook “chow mein.”
In Mexico, it appears that there was a greater number of Japanese immigrants, since sushi is available just about everywhere. There are also many artists of Japanese descent living in Mexico, like Fumiko Nakashima.
In Panama, just about everybody knows about Don Lee, the fast food restaurant that features Chinese food with a Panamanian twist. Like the United States, Panama truly is a land of immigrants, and even has sizable East Indian and Jewish communities–they even pay tribute to Gandhi and Albert Einstein!