Food I hated when I was a kid:
Food I love now:
BUT NOT BANANAS!
For whatever reason, I have never been able to love this fruit. I met a girl this summer who shared my distaste for this repulsive yellow monster.
"I hate everything that has to do with the banana," she said. "I hate the color. I hate the smell. I hate the way you have to undress it. It is so degrading."
And admit it. No matter how sexy, elegant, or posh a person may be, eating a banana instantly makes them look like a baboon.
However, years ago, I found to my horror that there was a relative of the banana that I did not feel repulsed by. The ever lovely plantain. I was first introduced to it at Gloria Estevan's restaurant in Florida. (The name escapes me...) The plantains were served fried, and when I bit into them, I can still remember the delightful crunch. It was better than potato chips. I was an instant fan of Cuban food after that moment.
I love little surprises like that. Food is such a personal thing for people. Name any type of food to someone, and you are sure to hear a very strong opinion. People just don't mess around when it comes to their taste buds.
The following recipe is an ode to the first time I relished a banana. No, I have not tried it. It would be difficult with nothing but a microwave and minifridge:
Tostones de Plátano(fried plantains)
Serves: six adults
Preparation time: About thirty minutes. Ingredients: 3 or 4 green plantains, peeled and cut at a slant, so that a medium-sized plantain yields around six pieces seasoning to taste (garlic salt, ground pepper, ground oregano)
Fry in a deep pan over medium to medium-high heat until the pieces begin to turn crisp. It's best to fry a few pieces at a time.
Remove the pieces. Set over a firm surface and press down on each piece with a hard instrument such as a roller until it becomes flattened thin and elongated. (Unless, of course, you avail yourself of a Tostonera - a gadget that will press the plantain piece into the shape of a Toston)
Return to the frying pan and continue to fry until they look quite crisp. Remove excess frying oil by setting over paper towels. Use as a side dish to substitute for French fries.
Warning: your diners may not want to go back to French fries in the future! Use as a side dish to substitute for French fries. You can freeze the plantain pieces before the second frying. They will last for months in the freezer! Careful, though: "for months" doesn't mean "forever".