Plantain Chips! Who knew?

June 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm 1 comment

I had the great honour/pleasure/good fortune of interviewing Barbara Kingsolver a year or so ago (when her book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle came out) and she said one thing in particular that stuck in my mind: we all have a childlike approach to dinner, she said. As it comes to be mealtime we think, what do I feel like having for dinner, rather than, what do we have? She was referring of course to eating locally and seasonally, but it certainly applies here. We’re so accustomed to deciding on dinner based on our moods and cravings.

Yesterday I was panicked at the prospect of getting through a dozen plantains. Today at 5 o’clock, as I made plantain chips, I thought – aren’t we lucky to get to sit around the table and enjoy such a dinner together, even if it’s not something we might have gone and chosen ourselves.

And really, I’m glad to have been pushed out of my comfort zone. The boys were out front kicking the ball around. Some neighbours stopped to chat. I brought out some freshly cooked and salted plantain chips. Everyone munched and chatted, and the plantains became a conversation piece. In how many countries of the world would this have been considered a feast?

Their presence also made me consider any immigrants who use the food bank and are happy to see something familiar in their bins. They might pick up a box of Kraft Dinner or cotton candy Jell-O and ask the same: “what the hell do I do with this??” Really, I want to be more familiar with cooking plantains than with Jell-O.

Ben considered himself lucky to get Top Dogs for dinner. We turned the TV on to the news and coincidentally a commercial came on for them as I was slicing plantains. Ben, watching it, suddenly turned and asked, “what’s for dinner?”

“Those,” I said.


Then he walked over to the table and asked, “what’s with all the candy?”

Ali, Ben and Emily came for dinner tonight before soccer, and we had hot dogs topped with baked beans on peppered hoagie buns, and coleslaw (our ingredient freebies include oil, vinegar and sugar, so I shook some up in a jar) and plantain chips. I like that there is enough here to accommodate a few extra for dinner. I imagine kids who are clients of the food bank might like to be able to invite their friends to stay for dinner once in awhile.

Plantain chips are quite delicious – sweeter than potatoes but not quite sweet potato-esque, they remind me, flavour-wise, of raisins. The secret is to slice them as thinly as you can, then cook them in hot canola oil (I heated a half inch until hot but not smoking) until deep golden. Drain on paper towels and shower with coarse salt.

My chef friend says they’re great in a curry. I can’t wait to try it. Just as soon as I have access to coconut milk and rice.


Entry filed under: Julie.

“Time” didn’t come in my hamper Los Ñoquis del 29

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. cfbkristen  |  June 1, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    mmm – yum Julie! I was thrilled to get plantains and was planning on making some plantain chips myself one of these nights


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