Go­ing Bananas

Dis­cover the dif­fer­ence be­tween the highly nu­tri­tious and handy yel­low fruit and its starchy sis­ter, the plan­tain

The Playa Times Riviera Maya's English Newspaper - - Tpt Foodies - BY CATHER­INE PAWELEK

Even though bananas are grown in the trop­i­cal coastal ar­eas of Mexico, ev­ery cor­ner mar­ket and gro­cery store car­ries a va­ri­ety of them, and they are priced just right. Re­mem­ber though that there are plan­tains and then there are bananas.

Va­ri­eties

The largest is cer­tainly the plá­tano macho reach­ing 20 cm (8 inches) in length - these looks like gi­gan­tic bananas, they vary in color from bright green to nearly black and are used just like a starchy veg­etable (much like pota­toes)while the Lady Fin­ger bananas can be as small as 7 cm (3 inches) and are eaten as a fruit.

There are fuzzy bananas with bub­blegum-pink skin, some with a green and white striped peel with an or­ange sher­bet pulp and those that when cooked taste like sweet straw­ber­ries.

Culi­nary Uses

Plan­tains are used at ev­ery stage of ripeness. It is best to pur­chase them green at the mar­ket and left to ripen to dif­fer­ent phases needed for dif­fer­ent dishes: green for frit­ters, yel­low for fried plan­tains served with rice, fish, or as dessert, and black for plan­tain “dough”.

Bananas, on the other hand, shouldn’t be too hard or but­ter­cup yel­low (not sweet enough), nor black (too mushy and pulpy). A ca­nary yel­low color with a slight firm­ness is the per­fect an­ti­dote.

Like the banana, the plan­tain is a herba­ceous flow­er­ing plant where the fe­male flow­ers turn into fruit. Com­pared to bananas, plan­tains are lower in both mois­ture and sugar, and they are not eaten raw.

The strong Afro-Caribbean culi­nary roots of Ver­acruz mean that plan­tains are used to make dough for em­panadas as well as a va­ri­ety of frit­ters. Fried plan­tains are also a com­mon dessert food, driz­zled with sweet­ened con­densed milk or cho­co­late sauce, and ei­ther pow­dered with cin­na­mon or ca­cao.

In Pue­bla, as well as in cen­tral and south­ern Mexico, plan­tains are an in­te­gral part of the mole known as man­chaman­te­les. In Oax­aca, they add plan­tains and pineap­ple to a spicysweet len­til stew, and in Chi­a­pas they use them in veg­etable soup.

Both plan­tains and bananas are high in di­etary fiber, highly nu­tri­tious and a good source of vi­ta­mins.

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