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The Tocumen International Airport in Panama City offers international cuisine — pizza.
Inside Story
Photo by Bobby Ross Jr.

On international trip, this picky eater asks, ‘What’s on the menu?’

Correspondent stretches his taste buds — just a little — in Central America.

PANAMA CITY — By the time I arrived at Tocumen International Airport in this Central American capital, I was starving.

Domino’s Pizza in the airport food court never looked so heavenly.

“How do you say pepperoni in Spanish?” I joked on Facebook.

Road Notes | Bobby Ross Jr.
It was close to 8 p.m. I’d rushed to catch a connecting flight in Houston with no time for a meal. Except for pretzels, I hadn’t eaten since leaving Oklahoma City about noon.

I still had the final leg of my journey left — to Nicaragua, where I was headed to report on Misión Para Cristo (“Mission for Christ” in English). I hoped to avoid boarding my first-ever flight on Copa Airlines with a growling stomach.

My Christian Chronicle colleague Erik Tryggestad has reported from 60-plus countries. He has written about his “mouth-watering” international culinary experiences — from barbecued warthog in Zimbabwe to giant, roadside churros in Brazil.

Tryggestad is an adventurous eater.

I am not.

Related: For thousands of Nicaragua’s poor, mission ‘a gift from God’

When I travel internationally, I tend to fill my suitcase with jeans, T-shirts and enough Cheese Nips to keep me alive for weeks.

To my delight on this night, I discovered that pepperoni is pronounced basically the same in Spanish as in English.

But even as I devoured my piping hot pizza, I wondered what might be on my plate the rest of the week.

I need not have worried.

Tip-Top chicken with Nicaragua ministers. #BetterThanKFC

A photo posted by Bobby Ross Jr. (@bobbyrossjr) on

The next day, I enjoyed fried chicken at Tip-Top — a national chain in Nicaragua — with missionary Benny Baker and ministers Efraín López and Franklin Mairena.

“Better than KFC,” I declared it.

At the mission, I woke up one morning to peanut butter, pancakes and pineapples. Yummy!

Bobby Ross Jr.’s lunch at Misión Para Cristo.For lunch another day, the cooks prepared chicken with a special jalapeño gravy, along with mashed potatoes, rolls and chaya, commonly known as “tree spinach.” Yes, I ate it all. I even somewhat liked the chaya.

But I’m pretty sure I’ll never put a barbecued warthog in my mouth.

Then again, if it came on top of a pizza, I just might consider it. Especially if I’d run out of Cheese Nips.

Bobby Ross Jr. is Chief Correspondent for The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

Filed under: Inside Story International Panama Travel Reports

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