Ok, so you messed up. You went into the grocery store looking for bananas, made a mistake, and picked up their cousins, plantains, as became obvious the second you tried to peel one. (It's not that hard to mix up! Plantains look like big, green, slightly flattened-out bananas and tend to confuse the cashiers who've "never, ever sold one of them." Admittedly, I got mine on purpose -- bad habit of picking up things I don't recognize in the grocery store...) So, now you're stuck with plantains. What in the world can you do with a plantain?

Let's assume you recognize it as food and therefore want to eat it. (I'm sure there are innumerable other uses for the things -- paper weight, anyone? -- but I don't think I want to know about all of them.) First things first - what color are your plantains? If they're green or slightly yellow, plantains taste and behave like somewhat exotic potatoes. (stretch your imagination... please?) Thus, you can do potato-ish sorts of things to them - boil and mash, bake, throw into stews, even deep fry and turn into plantain chips. They're easiest to cook before peeling -- if you leave a slit in the peel, it'll usually fall off easily enough post-cooking. Plus, your plantain doesn't explode that way. Probably the easiest - although not the best-tasting - way to cook a plantain is to cut off both ends, slit the peel, and stick it in the microwave for five minutes. It goes fairly well with common baked potato toppings that way. You might want to try a little of whatever you're mixing with the plantain on a plantain before serving them to a dozen people; yes, it tastes like a potato, but not exactly like one...

And if your plantains aren't green? If they're not yellow or black or some combination, it's probably best to throw them away. But if they are dark yellow or black, congratulations - you've got ripe plantains. These are sweeter and work well for desserts - sautée with butter and add sugar, for example.

There are recipes using plantains all over the internet... One decent site for further plantain advice and recipes is at http://caribbeanfood.about.com/food/caribbeanfood/library/weekly/aa070700a.htm. Have fun!
Along the country lanes of Europe grows the starry-flowered plantain, clinging to the verges of the paths as if seeking human company. The Germans of old times called the plantain Wegewarte, or "watcher of the road," and in that name lies the story of its genesis.

A maiden left her village one night and followed a path into the a wood to meet her lover. He never came to her. Throughout the night, she waited for the sound of his footsteps, but all she heard was the hooting of the owls and the sigh of the wind in the trees, and in the small hours, she began to weep.

Finally, she lay by the path and died. The sun rose. All around her body, green shoots began to grow. By noon, pale blossoms had threaded their way through the dark strands of her hair. By evening, the body had vanished into a mass of tiny flowers. They haunt roadsides still, keeping a vigil for a lover who never appears.

Plan"tain (?), n. [Cf. F. plantain-arbre, plantanier, Sp. pl�xa0;ntano, pl�xa0;tano; prob. same word as plane tree.]

1. Bot.

A treelike perennial herb (Musa paradisiaca) of tropical regions, bearing immense leaves and large clusters of the fruits called plantains. See Musa.

<-- a type of banana -->

2.

The fruit of this plant. It is long and somewhat cylindrical, slightly curved, and, when ripe, soft, fleshy, and covered with a thick but tender yellowish skin. The plantain is a staple article of food in most tropical countries, especially when cooked.

<-- resembling the banana of commerce, but smaller -->

Plantain cutter, ∨ Plantain eater Zool., any one of several large African birds of the genus Musophaga, or family Musophagidae, especially Musophaga violacea. See Turaco. They are allied to the cuckoos. -- Plantain squirrel Zool., a Java squirrel (Sciurus plantani) which feeds upon plantains. -- Plantain tree Bot., the treelike herb Musa paradisiaca. See def. 1 (above).

 

© Webster 1913.


Plan"tain, n. [F., fr. L. plantago. Cf. Plant.] Bot.

Any plant of the genus Plantago, but especially the P. major, a low herb with broad spreading radical leaves, and slender spikes of minute flowers. It is a native of Europe, but now found near the abode of civilized man in nearly all parts of the world.

Indian plantain. Bot. See under Indian. -- Mud plantain, a homely North American aquatic plant (Heteranthera reniformis), having broad, reniform leaves. -- Rattlesnake plantain, an orchidaceous plant (Goodyera pubescens), with the leaves blotched and spotted with white. -- Ribwort plantain. See Ribwort. -- Robin's plantain, the Erigeron bellidifolium, a common daisylike plant of North America. -- Water plantain, a plant of the genus Alisma, having acrid leaves, and formerly regarded as a specific against hydrophobia. Loudon.

 

© Webster 1913.

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