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I Thought It Was a Banana

Banana or Plantain

When I arrived here in the USA, I was confused why they call bananas “ plantains.” Then I realized, these bananas needed to be cooked. Then, the banana that can be eaten is in the fruit aisle. That is how I became aware they got another name for that banana. In the Philippines if it looks like a banana then it is a banana. You cook it or not.


Merienda means afternoon snack

Banana cue is fried plantains with sugar on bamboo skewers. It is usually prepared as an afternoon snack. This is not fancy to prepare as long as you have oil, sugar and plantain then you are good to go. Some recipes include cinnamon and vanilla.

Turon looks like a spring roll. It is sliced plantains with sweetened langka (jackfruit) then rolled in a spring roll wrapper. It is also fried then sprinkled with brown sugar and then the caramelized sugar will coat it. Looks shiny and delicious to eat.

Pinaypay ( Banana Fan Fritters ) is also known as a street food. The plantain is sliced in a way that looks like a fan. The sliced ripe plantain is dipped into a batter and deep fried. Then dredge or lightly coat it with sugar.

Nilaga na Saging is boiled plantain. This is easy to prepare: just boil the plantain then serve with dried fish, ginamos, bagoong, or fermented fish such as anchovies. It is a really filling snack.

Nilupak na saging is a mashed boiled plantain with milk and sugar. It is served on a banana leaf with grated coconut as a topping. This was such a fun thing to do when we were young. My grandmother has a wooden mortar and pestle. We would take turns putting the banana and start mashing it. I love it with condensed milk. It is really a good snack.

Minatamis na saging is a sweetened plantain. Peel the ripe plantain and slice it. Boil with water and put white or brown sugar to thicken it. This will smell good with a little vanilla and a dash of cinnamon.

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Banana Leaves Lunch Box

This is a little sad for me to tell but I will tell it anyway. I have an elementary classmate before that is so shy and every time we eat lunch he would go in the corner and hide himself. We could still see him because everybody eats in the classroom. He unfolds the banana leaves and there shows rice and dried fish. I feel he is not proud that he is not having a fancy lunch box like others. I feel sad for him because he can’t even eat with his friends. He is afraid they will make fun of him.

I wonder where that classmate of mine is. Maybe he is already a rich person. I could not even remember his name. I only remembered at lunch time that I could smell the banana leaves. It smells really good. Banana leaves make the smell of rice even better.

Now, I can see some restaurants in the Philippines using banana leaves to serve desserts and even the main dish. I thought of him and smiled that maybe now he will not go to the corner and be ashamed of his food wrapped up with banana leaves

The story is not about snacks. It just reminds me of not being proud of who we really are. Like the banana, before it was just taken for granted by some Filipinos including me.

Now it is advised to eat one banana a day for good health. It is only a banana but it has a lot of benefits. I sometimes laughed at myself when I bought one plantain at Walmart for .62 cents. I would always say, “ It still looks like a banana to me.”

Here I am missing to eat boiled bananas and dipped in fermented anchovies for my merienda or afternoon snack.

Thank you for reading and have a nice day!

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