The green plantain – when staying in Panama you must have seen it. Either in the supermarket, in the chino on the corner, on the Tuesday market or sold next to the road. Plantains look identical to bananas, only slightly larger. They have, however, a distinct taste at each stage of ripeness and can be consumed at all stages.
Green, unripe plantains are starchy and taste similar to a potato when deep-fried. In Panama, the typical side dish options in a restaurant are: yucca, papas fritas (French fries), or patacones. Patacones are unripe green plantain slices that are deep fried twice (my very favorite).
Plantains become sweeter as they ripen and therefore caramelize when you fry them. This stage is typically eaten with rice and beans or when being very ripe as a dessert, prepared with cinnamon and known as the delicious delicacy ‘Plátano en Tentación’ in Panama.
Whether prepared as a sweet dessert or as deep-fried chips, plantains provide a distinctive and nutritious addition to any diet. They serve as a ‘broom’ in the body, helping eliminate food residues that can clog the digestive system, and help get rid of toxins.
- Plantains contain high levels of vitamin A and C, meaning that they help keep your immune system stimulated and producing white blood cells
- Plantains improve your mood! They are a great source of vitamin B6 and tryptophan – two essential nutrients for the synthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with the sensation of pleasure and well-being
- Plantains help with ulcers caused by aspirin
- High fiber which is good for digestive health
- Contain potassium which is good for your heart and other organs
- Since they fruit all year round, plantains are a reliable all-season staple food
The fruit has been referred to by culinary expert as the pasta and potatoes of the Caribbean for its versatility and consistency as a starch in everyday meals. Plantains originated in India and today are harvested in tropical areas around the world. In Panamá, most of the production is harvested in the province of Chiriqui with 58%, 18% in Darien and 15% in Bocas del Toro.
© Magda Crespo & Escapes Panama #69