Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Puerto Rican Feast in Guate

Last week while I was grocery shopping, I noted with glee that the plantains on sale were green.  This weekend, a few were still green, and I bought them.

These looked greener in the store.  They were a
tiny bit too ripe, actually.  

What’s the big deal with green plantains?  Plantains are a staple of Guatemalan cuisine.  However, here they sell and eat them exclusively ripe.  I have seen nothing but bright yellow/black plantains in stores and at markets since I moved here.  Ripe (yellow) plantains are great for making sweet fried plantains, which are very popular here. 

But to make my Puerto Rican favorites—namely mofongo and tostones—one needs green, unripe plantains.  They need to be starchy (almost like a potato) rather than sweet. 

So, back to this past weekend.  A plan formed in my head, and along with the plantains, I picked up red beans and mentally verified that at home I had Sazon, Sofrito, garlic, tomato sauce, and the other seasonings that go into my staple make-at-home Puerto Rican meals.  

Once the groceries were purchased, I sent out invitations, and on Monday night, I whipped up chicken alá Kezia (seasoned the way she taught me, back in the day), white rice and red beans, and, with the help of three friends who were eager to learn, a mountain of tostones. 




I wasn’t sure how many people who be coming to dine with us, so I opted to make tostones rather than mofongo to ensure that I had enough plantains.  Tostones are fried plantains.  They taste a bit like a French fry, I guess, but they have a very different shape. 

When Kenra, Jestina, and Nadine arrived, they all jumped in to learn the process needed to make tostones, and we formed a bit of an assembly line.  Kenra patted the plantain pieces dry after their saltwater soak to ensure they wouldn’t send hot oil flying.  I manned the fry pan.  Everyone took turns smooshing the plantains flat after they’d been fried the first time, and then Jestina passed them back to the pan for their 2nd frying. 




Turns out we had a few too many plantains.  We had enough tostones to feed about 4 more people. 

Nevertheless, we ended up with a well-rounded Puerto Rican meal I could be proud of.  I was so happy to be able to share a bit of my background with my Guatemalan friends—even if PR is only my adopted 2nd culture.    





And the best part of the night?  My friends insisted on doing the dishes before leaving!  Life doesn’t get better.    


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