Plátanos - Spanish for the word plantains is a Caribbean staple, but we, Dominicans idolize our plátanos.
A typical Dominican breakfast consists of mashed plátanos for mangu served with fried eggs, salami and longaniza (Dominican sausage). Every weekend I spent with my father growing up - my now deceased grandmother, Lela would cook about 10 plátanos to serve the family. The real beauty of plátanos is their versatility, they can be eaten at any time of day; we make tostones, fried plátano chip-like sides, and plátanos maduros, which are from “aged” plátanos to make a sweeter side dish.
Important to this plátano story, is my own journey of self-love and appreciation for my own heritage. As a first generation Dominican-American with a fairly Americanized upbringing I had trouble coming into my own identity and heritage. I often resisted learning important parts of where I came from and how to cook food staples. I was 19 years old when I first learned how to peel a plátano and embark on making sense of my own identity.
Every time I see a fruit and vegetable stand on the street with plátanos I reflect on all the sweet, laborious, loving home-cooking that each plátano requires. Symbolically, I think of the each immigrant groups’ “plátano” that represents their culture and how hard it can be to pass down culture to first-generation, second-generation immigrants as they try to navigate multiple identities.
– Isabela A Espinal