Plantains, or plátanos in Spanish, grow everywhere in Puerto Rico. Plaintains are a staple in Puerto Rican food, or comida criolla. Mofongo, probably the most popular comida criolla, is mashed plantains stuffed with meat, or served and eaten with a broth on the side. A popular side, tostones, are double-fried smashed pieces of plantain, lightly salted and sometimes made with garlic. Tostones are made by cutting a plantain into 1-inch pieces (roughly 2.5 cm) and soaking them in salt water for about 15 minutes, then frying them for about 2 minutes. Then, they are removed from the pan and left to cool down and dry off. The next part is the most fun, because you get to smash them! Locals use a tostonera, but they can also be put on a flat surface and smashed with a flat object, such as a plate. Once they have been smashed, they are fried again for a few more minutes and immediately salted afterwards. They’re so tasty that I often crave them!
A client of Glenn’s has a small farm on her property and grows plantains. She gave us a bag of plantains this week, and I’m planning to make tostones for the first time this weekend. It will be my first attempt and I hope they turn out well. If they do, I might have to buy myself a tostonera!
The big thing happening in Puerto Rico this week is protests against the proposed tax reform, which would increase sales tax from 7% to a whopping 16%. The island is bankrupt, and the idea is that the IVA (or VAT in English, “Value Added Tax”) would change Puerto Rico’s economic situation. Who are they looking at as their model? Europe. Clearly, someone has not done their homework on the current economic situation in European countries.
This is such a big deal that Wednesday was an unofficial “no buying” day in Puerto Rico, and anyone who could avoid having to buy anything – even gas for their car – did. Today, my university called an official recess from classes and even organized buses to bring students to a march against IVA. If you are interested in reading more about the tax reform, here are a couple of great articles about IVA: