When Is A Banana Not A Banana?

Answer: When it’s a plantain! Bet you knew that already didn’t you? Clever thing you!

And if you don’t already know, a plantain, or cooking plantain, is one of the less sweet cultivated varieties of the genus Musa whose fruit is also known as a banana.

The thing is, I’m finding new and interesting things to eat, especially since I started following the paleo lifestyle. I saw a recipe a couple of weeks back that looked really grub-tastic! However, one of the ingredients was “plantain”. Wha dat? I immediately felt a Google search coming on, and this is what I discovered:

Plantain is one of the healthiest foods in the world in terms of its nutrient content. They come in green, yellow and black. The Paleo Leap website confirms the yellow variety, and I quote: “is a little sweeter and less starchy than the green ones; they’re a middle ground between green and black. They’re still not as sweet as bananas, though.”

Plantains are a good source of vitamins B6 and vitamin C, and they’re an excellent source of carbohydrates with a naturally low glycemic index of 38. This means that eating a reasonable amount of plantains that have been cooked appropriately, won’t result in rapid blood glucose increase, which is typically the effect when eating carbohydrate-rich processed foods like bread, crackers, or cereals. Great news if you’re following a paleo diet!

plantain21
Don’t let the bruising put you off, these are good to go!

I’d pretty much forgotten all about plantains. After all, where was I going to find one of those? Well apparently in my local supermarket! Duh! There, right in front on me, was a crate full of them! It’s getting ever so exotic in West Didsbury! I eagerly placed a couple of plantains in my basket and went to the self-service checkout. As luck would have it, the supermarket didn’t have them listed on their computer system, so the manager let me have them for the price of two bananas! Mental note to myself: Must go back for more plantains tomorrow!

Okay, so I’ve got the plantains, now what to do with them? A further search on the world wide web and I decided to go plain and simple – an ethos you’ll find often on this blog!

plantain23

“Nil points” in the beauty stakes, but beauty is only skin deep . . . . . apparently!

First I cut off the ends of the plantain and boiled some water in a large pan. I then carefully placed the plantain into the boiling water and let it do its thing for 30 minutes. I took the plantain out of the water using metal tongs as it’s hot, hot, hot! Then remove the peel, which is easy, and slice.

I served my plantain with organic salad leaves and my guacamole dip. You could just as easily slice an avocado over the salad if you aren’t inclined to make guacamole. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and “jobs a good ‘un” as we say in these parts.

I’ll definitely try out more recipes using plantains. I really like the texture, although it doesn’t taste of much at all. A bit like a cross between a banana and a potato if I’m honest. Interesting though. I’m sure it will taste quite different when fried or baked, so I’ll be back with more recipes at a later date. In the meantime, here’s the finished dish.

plantain26.jpg

and after a few mouthfuls . . . . .

plantain30

This has kept me full all day!

FINAL NOTE: When my 12 year old daughter arrived home from school today, I pointed to the remaining plantain and said: “Just so you know, this isn’t a banana”. Martha replied “Yes I know, it’s a plantain. We’ve been studying a poem in English called ‘Praise Song for My Mother‘ by Grace Nicols and she mentions a plantain”.

Well ‘shiver me timbers!’ What a coincidence! So here’s the poem; there’s nothing wrong with a bit of culture, is there now?

Praise Song for My Mother

You were
water to me
deep and bold and fathoming

You were
moon’s eye to me
pull and grained and mantling

You were
sunrise to me
rise and warm and streaming

You were
the fishes red gill to me
the flame tree’s spread to me
the crab’s leg/the fried plantain smell
replenishing replenishing

Think I’ll try fried plantain next time!

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