Around the World in 80 Plates: Panama

Welcome to sunny Panama! A land of beaches and mountains, with tropical fruit, interesting people and a long history that includes digging a really big ditch across the whole country.

They eat all sorts of yummy local fruits, veggies, animals they raise, and catch fish from the ocean.

One fun fruit they grow in Panama, that is also available in the United States, is the plantain. It looks like a big ‘ol banana, and is from the same plant family. Not only are they larger than a banana, but you can’t eat them raw like you can eat a banana. The peel doesn’t easily come off, but it is worth the extra effort.

Plantains contain magnesium, potassium (more than bananas), vitamin A, and vitamin K. They also supply some vitamin C and B vitamins, and can be cooked a lot of different ways. Crispy tostones, (or patacones, depending on where you are from) are cooked twice and delicious with salsa, ketchup, or any flavorful dip you mix up in your kitchen!

The most fun part of this recipe is the smashing! The bottom of a small plate that has a rim on it works well, or you can use the bottom of any flat glass or jar to press your half-cooked plantains to make the flat tostone shape.

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