Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Good Bye, Ecuador! Two Weeks of Things I'll Miss: Day 9 - Bananas, Plantains, Chifles, Maduro...

In William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, there is a reoccurring reference to bananas, which are at once exotic yet obtainable in 1930s America.  This is what I remember waltzing into any restaurant in Ecuador.  Plantains in Ecuador are like potatoes in America.  We do our taters fried, mashed, baked, as hash browns, as french fries, etc.  They do their plantains mashed, sweetened, with cheese, as chips, as breading, etc.

Starchy, sweet, mushy, or crunchy: plantains are a staple of the Ecuadorian diet and one of the things I'll miss most in Ecuador.  For the uninitiated, a glossary - abbreviated - of plantains.

  • Chifles - shaved, fried plantain chips.  Good with ceviche.
  • Patacones - flattened but still thick, fried plantain disks.  Eat them with sauce, with cheese, pile food on top, etc.
  • Maduro - very ripe plantain.  Baked or fried and served with rice and beans.
  • Verde - under ripe, firm, starchy plantain.  Used for tortillas, empanadas, bolon, corviche, and breading on fried meats.  (deserves a subcategory all its own)
  • Guineo - what we call "banana"  
Later this week, I'll be posting photos of my baking attempts.  Until then, I strongly recommend you check out for other Ecuadorian cuisine.