consumingcostarica

Cooking and eating through a new culture

Costa Rican S’mores

I’ve never been a big breakfast person. Coffee lasts me until late morning and then I usually just make an early lunch.  With Rafa at work during the day, I usually just nibble at things. This goes against the Costa Rican standard as breakfast as a MEAL. I mean, it’s a spread of gallo pinto, eggs, squeaky cheese, bread, etc. A food coma first thing in the day is just not my speed.

After the festivities of Easter, I found myself with a huge bag of quickly ripening plantains. Whereas bananas are normally eaten raw, plantains are better cooked or fried. Again, it’s another starch in the Latino diet but one I liberally eat. My only pause being boiled plantains, which I will always gratefully decline or just scoop onto Rafa’s plate. So, as a result of having an over abundance of ripe plantains, time, and a ravenous sweet tooth, I happened upon creating my version of the Costa Rican S’more.

To ease the cloud of fruit flies that were developing over them, I began cooking them for my mid morning snack. In fact, the fruit flies are an excellent indication that the plantains are ready to be fried since the more ripe they are (or the nastier they look), the sweeter they taste.  After I battled back the flies, I peeled off the skins and cut away any hard parts. Plantains don’t have the mush factor of bananas, but they will get some unusual hard parts. Sliced lengthwise a little less than a quarter-inch thick makes cooking easier. I put down a thick layer of olive oil in my trusty cast iron pan and heat to just about sizzling. I have seen some recipes call for additional sugar, but I don’t think it’s that necessary. Instead, I pour in a bit of fresh vanilla extract I bought in Mexico. Watch for the splash factor. Cover for two minutes, then flip the plantains for another 2-3 minutes. They should have a nice golden brown, carmelized color. Cool and dab away any excess oil.

Now this is where it gets exciting! For a few days, I just ate them plain…boring…so I began to experiment. There are crackers down here similar to graham called Fibra y Miel and I always have them on hand in case of a sweet attack. I began putting slices of fried plantains on the crackers and swooned over the sweet, crunchy taste. For an added savory touch, I topped it off with a dollop of natilla, which is more like a sour cream than a custard. Back stateside, I’m sure you could use clotted cream or marzipan even. The discovery of some left over bakers chocolate added another dimension when lightly grated over the morsel, although the added effort proved to be too much and I just ate them with the natilla. Voilà! The Costa Rican S’more. A completely local concoction created by moi. Delicious with coffee.

I would have offered a picture but I eat them too fast.

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