Plantains, Conversations and Falling Leaves, among other things

Delicious Fried Plantains

Fried plantains are now my go-to munchy treat. They’re sweet and satisfying when fried in a combination of olive oil and what they call here in Costa Rica Numar margarine (which is I think a combo of oils used extensively in most cooking here). Plantains are similar to bananas but much larger. I like them cooked when they’re yellow and starting to get brown spots because they’re becoming sweeter at that point. They are used when green as a starch here in stews, like potatoes. Yumyumyum, give ’em a try as a snack or side dish. They’re not going to get crispy, so be warned they’re not chips, just a creamy sweet textural addition to eat instead of a cookie, which I happen to be weaning myself off of…

I’ve now facilitated two English Language Conversation classes at the UTN college campus in Alajuela. Not only has it been a fun experience and really satisfying in terms of ‘giving back’ or community service, but it’s gotten me out of the house and to a new major city here in Costa Rica. I’m still lost but I find myself interested in the city itself as a great place to wander and explore, much more so than Heredia which is a larger city and perhaps therein is the difference in my attitude. Both classes were small with interesting folks participating. With only 4 or 5 people, an hour of facilitated conversation is a bit difficult…. you really have to be prepared with many topics… and I have to admit I floundered a bit until I realized that the students wanted to know as much about life in the US as much as I wanted to know about Costa Rica. Another realization occurred when I suddenly realized that I was there to have conversations, not forced responses to topics chosen to discuss one by one around the little circle of chairs. A much more vibrant response was had by all this time around!

On my walk to the University I realized the leaves were falling off the trees! My initial thought was – perfect timing because it’s November after all – then immediately followed by ‘ Wait!! It’s not fall in Costa Rica, it’s Spring bordering on Summer!’ The leaves fall here because it’s warming up and the trees don’t have enough moisture to support the continued greening of their leaves. Kinda the opposite of what I’m used to in the US in a strangely wonderful twist.

The city of Alajuela is warm bordering on hot right now. I’m sure as the weeks progress into Summer it will be a bit excruciating. Thank God I haven’t tried to wean myself off potato chips yet… my rationalization is that the salt of the chips will stave off dehydration, especially if coupled with Fanta Orange Soda.


7 responses »

  1. You CAN make plantains crispy; slice them thin and heat the oil up. I don’t like them this way though… you lose a lot of flavor in favor of fried grease flavor.

    Also, I’m not sure plantains are good substitute for cookies… both are pure carbohydrates and added fat. The only advantage that a plantain over a potato chip is that it’s not a processed food.

    Have fun experimenting!

  2. that was a great post, Niki – I can see you walking the streets. How far away is the class you facilitate? How long does it take you to get there. Kathleen and I toasted you with a glass of red wine on Tuesday – we clinked and saluted you and your beautiful bravery!

    • Heehee, thanks for the toast, Lori! Miss you two! It’s about a mile or a little less – 20 minute walk there from the bus station. Going is downhill, coming back is uphill, so cardio, baby!

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