An Indigenous Group In Panama Holds The Guinness Record For World’s Largest Patacón
After a coordinated six-month effort, Panama’s Emberá de Ipetí indigenous community broke the Guinness World Record for the largest patacón in the world. How many plátanos does it take to make the worlds largest was that patacón, you ask? Weighing at 245 pounds and measuring over 11 feet in diameter, the World’s Largest Patacón required 1,200 plátanos and 330 gallons of frying oil. The long-anticipated event drew in a sold-out crowd of 700 celebrators who took part in Emberá traditions, dance, and plenty of comida.
“We no longer want to be this statistic of vulnerability,” Emberá de Ipetí’s community leader, Sara Omi, told CNN. “We are rich in knowledge and that’s what we’re demonstrating here today.”
As visitors arrived for “Patacón Day,” they were invited to participate in a hand-washing ritual.
At the entrance of the events, guests could participate in this Emberá ritual that uses plants to cleanse “malas vibras,” or bad vibes. “The plants we use to wash our hands has a lot to do with our worldview,” Sara Omi said. “For example, if you arrive at your home and bring bad malas vibras, washing your hands will take away those malas vibras. You become more open for everything that comes.” Then, the guests could go ahead and dance and eat with everyone else.
Over 100 volunteers worked to make individual tostones that were spread across an enormous steel mold.
It takes a lot of labor to peel, chop, fry, grind, knead and finally assemble 1,200 plátanos. Volunteers would fry individual plátanos in this enormous, 330-gallon vat of oil, and bring it to the steel mold for others to assemble. Then, the crowd gathered around to watch the tense moment that volunteers carefully carried 245 pounds of plátanos back to this vat of oil. Then, it was dropped into the oil for its final fry, and lifted out of the vat to become the world’s largest patacón. This wasn’t their first rodeo either. It took six months for the 134 Emberá de Ipetí indigenous volunteers to practice and perfect the enormous feat.
According to Carlos Tapia, the official adjudicator of the Guinness World Records, there were three requirements to ensure the attempt would be a success.
The first was that the patacón remained an intact, single patacón. It could not break once it was removed from the oil. Secondly, there had to be several professionals present. A metrologist could certify that the final weight was at least 220 pounds to break the previous record. There also had to be a cultural expert present to ensure the patacón was true to its roots. A health and hygiene inspector was also present to ensure that the food was prepared in such a way that it didn’t violate any health codes.
The final requirement to break the record was to make sure none of the food goes to waste.
We love that, Guinness World Records. That means the pressure isn’t off once the patacón is flawlessly assembled and beats the previous weight record. Then, came the universal tradition: eat as much food as you possibly can, and then have seconds. With a sold-out crowd of folks there to witness history, it goes without saying that the Emberá de Ipetí pulled off the feat. Maybe it was because the record was broken on the auspicious Oct. 14, or World Food Day. While folks were feasting, they could also support the women artisans selling their crafts, entirely inspired and created from the nature surrounding them.
The Patacón has become a symbol of unity and the greatness of indigenous peoples and of Panama.
“I would like to tell everyone who is here, my perfect Patacón staff, those who have been part of a little piece of patacón and all the people who joined this dream, never forget that, together, we can achieve what we set out to do,” Patacón director, Sabrina Naimark, told the crowd. “We managed to unite as a country, make the Emberá de Ipetí Indigenous community visible, and achieve the Guinness World Record Holder Record so that the world knows how big Panama is and what we are able to do when we put soul, passion, and dedication to an idea. That idea became a reality, creating a true social impact in Panama and the world.”