Saturday, February 04, 2006

I used to make a living by picking the banana

I love plaintains. They can be a dessert or a very nice addition to savory dishes. One of the few downsides to the plaintain is the difficulty in peeling them. If you do it by hand you end up with little shoots under your nails and it hurts like hell. The NYT has a story of a man who has solved this problem with his EZ Peeler. The Times has another piece describing how best to use plaintains at each stage of ripeness.

My two favorite ways of eating plaintains are with black beans and sour cream and in a burrito. Sellwood's El Palenque has some good plaintains, although the Salvadoran food is a bit buried on the menu. I need to find a place a little closer to 97213. DC was far better for Salvadoran as it has a much larger immigrant community. I went to one place in Arlington and a Guatemalan guy approached and asked if I was American. He was thrilled when I answered yes and sat down to talk. Good food at that place. I found it on Tyler Cowen's ethnic food guide, which is an absolute must read if you are going to be eating in Metro DC.

The best plaintain burrito recipe I have tried came from the Well Filled Tortilla. It's an older cookbook, but still quite good. One of the authors wrote the recent Olive and Caper, a Greek cookbook. The recipe in question calls for lightly frying plaintains and chicken, with a bit of salt and pine nuts. You combine in a tortilla with some orange-onion salsa and sour cream. It is a sublime food combination, the spicy sweetness of the salsa rests on top of the warm embrace of the chicken and plaintains. Serve this and people will want to have your children.

On the question of burritos, the Washington Post lists some good indie burrito joints in case you fear "Chipotle creep". Man, I'm not gonna lie, I LOVE Chipotle. I know they owned by McDonald's but I don't care, they rule. I think they put crack in those burritos because I want another after I eat one. I still love the small taquerias, and Portland has plenty, but I can't stop going to Chipotle. If we are lucky, the Chipotle craze will lead to more burrito eating and more biz for the little guy. Williamette Week ran an interesting story showing that Starbucks may have actually increased interest in coffee as there are now more coffee shops in Portland after Starbucks than there were before.

No comments: