Ava didn’t like bananas at first. Mashed, pureed with yogurt, cut into chunks… the best reaction I could from her was a giant baby-frown. She just wasn’t a fan. Then one day I spotted mini bananas at the store. They were the cutest thing I’d ever seen. About 4″long, they were sweeter than regular bananas (more floral, too) and just the right size for Ava to eat out of hand, like she’d seen me do a hundred times before.
Incredibly, this new, miniature format was an instant success. She’s been eating bananas with gusto ever since.
Ava’s not the only one who loves them – bananas are Ecuador’s crowning glory. Literally. According to Lonely Planet, bananas and related plantains are so popular in Ecuador, they’ve made their way into regional (and world) festivals. But it’s not the bananas being voted on… oh no. Instead, each year the best looking gal in Machala (a coastal city famous for banana exports) is crowned the “Banana Queen.” She then can move on to compete to be the banana queen of the world!
Five popular Plantain dishes in Ecuador:
1. Bolas de Verde:
Cooked, mashed plantains shaped into a ball and stuffed with cheese. They can be baked or fried. Be still my heart.
2. Empanadas Verde:
Unripe plantains are mashed and stretched and kneaded until glutinous and capable of forming a dough. This is then used to wrap up cheese into an empanada. Totally resourceful.
3. Plátanos con queso:
Green plantains split in half and stuffed with cheese, then cooked over a hot grill. Easy. This is a must try!
Seafood stuffed inside a plantain dumpling. Tasty!
5. Sopa de bolas de verde
Thick peanut soup a-bob with plantain dumplings. “Bobbing plantain dumplings.” – try saying that 10 times fast!